CHINA / MILITARY
China’s FC-31 fighter jet prototype completes ‘crucial’ static testing
Published: Jul 08, 2021 12:29 AM
An FC-31 stealth fighter jet is on display at Shenyang Aircraft Corp's Aviation Expo Park in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province in June. Photo: Screenshot from KNEWS

An FC-31 stealth fighter jet is on display at Shenyang Aircraft Corp's Aviation Expo Park in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province in June. Photo: Screenshot from KNEWS



The prototype of China's FC-31 stealth fighter jet that went on public display at its manufacturer's expo park since late June has completed static testing, a development procedure experts said on Wednesday is crucial to examining the aircraft's structural integrity under extreme conditions.

Before becoming an exhibit at the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation's (SAC) Aviation Expo Park, this particular FC-31 aircraft had completed static testing, China Central Television (CCTV) quoted a tour guide employed by the expo park as saying in a report on Tuesday.

By applying extreme pressure to all parts and different components of the aircraft, the static testing can help developers gather a large amount of data, which are very valuable in future development, CCTV said.

Static testing is crucial to aircraft development, as it simulates on the ground the forces and load the aircraft would bear when it flies and maneuvers, and examines if the aircraft's structural integrity is up to requirements, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The public display of the FC-31 static test demonstrator is an indication that it has accomplished its intended mission, Song said, noting that the aircraft is likely unable to fly anyway because of the damage received in the extreme testing.

With the static testing done, the FC-31 project can continue further tests and modifications, Song said.

The CCTV report did not reveal when the static testing was conducted. Observers suspect that it was completed for a while before the aircraft was refurbished for the exhibit.

Media footage shows that, while the FC-31 on display bears the number "31001" - the serial number of the first FC-31 demonstrator that performed at the Zhuhai Airshow 2014 - it is probably not the same aircraft. The design of the tail is different and represents a redesigned version that was displayed at the Zhuhai Airshow 2018 as a model, observers said.

The FC-31 has undergone many changes in the past years, and an even newer version of the FC-31 based on previous test results and modifications could make its test flight soon, Song said.

In early June, foreign media outlets posted a photo showing a full-sized model of the FC-31 on a mock aircraft carrier, allegedly used to evaluate the country's carrier development.

Since China's aircraft carriers would eventually need a type of stealth fighter jet, the FC-31 would be a good candidate after receiving the necessary improvements and modifications to suit the needs of vessel-based operations, Wang Ya'nan, editor-in-chief of the Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times last week.
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