BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s top aircraft manufacturer has revealed specifications of an advanced stealth fighter jet in a bid to lure foreign buyers, the official China Daily reported on Friday.
In a rare disclosure, the state-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China (Avic) unveiled the capabilities of the J-31 aircraft at an aviation show, even though the jet is still being tested, the newspaper said.
Avic officials have made no secret of the fact that they are seeking foreign buyers for the aircraft, hoping to compete with Lockheed Martin’s F-35.
Countries that cannot buy weaponry from the United States have increasingly sought them from China, particularly because Chinese arms are often cheaper.
Avic said the fifth-generation fighter jet, which has a 1,200 km (750-mile) combat range and a top speed of 2,205 kph (1,370 mph), is designed to be in service for up to 30 years, the China Daily reported.
It has a maximum payload capacity of 8 metric tons, the newspaper said.
An Avic executive said last year the jet could “take down” foreign rivals in the sky. The twin-engine J-31 took its maiden flight in 2012.
Defense analysts have often compared the jet to the U.S.-made F-35, and U.S. officials have speculated that China may have used cyber espionage to acquire classified knowledge about the aircraft’s development.
Stealth aircraft are vital to China developing the ability to carry out both offensive and defensive operations, the Pentagon has said in a report about developments in China’s military.
The J-31 is China’s second domestically produced stealth fighter jet.
President Xi Jinping has pushed to toughen the 2.3 million-strong armed forces as the country takes a more assertive stance in the region, particularly in the South China and East China seas.
Reporting By Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Robert Birsel