China officially pulled the curtain back on its new fifth-generation stealth fighter — the Shenyang J-31 Falcon Eagle — during a defense air show in Zhuhai, Guangdong outside of Hong Kong Tuesday. The show of force comes two days into a visit to China by President Barack Obama for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting of world leaders in Beijing Tuesday. The J-31 represents China’s chief competitor for arms market share against the U.S.’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, from which the J-31 draws a number of extremely similar design elements.
“Experts predict that the J-31 will make rapid inroads in the international market in the future, and will undoubtedly steal the limelight from the F-35,” the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily reported in August of last year, according to Reuters. The jet features a host of stealthy, radar-evading design elements lifted from the Lockheed Martin-built F-35 multi-role fighter, including the sensor-loaded nose section, trapezoid-shaped wings, dual tails and general styling and size — elements that will help the J-31 beef up Chinese air dominance in the East and South China seas.
In terms of becoming a more significant force in arms manufacturing, Chinese officials believe the J-31 will be popular among countries banned from purchasing exported U.S.-made arms.