The head of a Chinese aviation industry group recently said that China’s J-31 stealth fighter could take out the US F-35 Lightning II in head-to-head combat.
AVIC Chairman Lin Zuomin told state-run broadcaster CCTV that the J-31 “will finish it off in the sky,” according to Bloomberg News.
However, the state-run Chinese Communist mouthpiece Global Times cited an anonymous source in AVIC as saying Lin’s comments were “some kind of misunderstanding” and that he was stating the goal of the J-31 and not its current capabilities.
“It is unrealistic for the (J-31 and its sister Chinese stealth fighter J-20) to surpass their U.S. counterparts in a short period of time,” the Global Times also said, per the Wall Street Journal.
Regarding Lin’s comments, “These are the kinds of statements that make my jaw drop to the ground — where is the proof?” noted Richard Bitzinger, who is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
“What is its turn radius? What kind of avionics does it carry? Let alone weapons? This is just a nice piece of jingoistic nationalism,” he added.
There have been allegations that the J-31 was developed using data stolen from F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin or six sub-contractors working on the project. Meanwhile, analysts have said that China also likely stole F-22 Raptor information to make the J-20 fighter.
Meanwhile, it was reported that a Chinese national was charged in Connecticut on Dec. 9 for attempting to steal information about the F-35.
Yu Long, 36, was charged with attempting to go to China with documents he took from an unnamed major defense contractor in Connecticut where he was working. The documents had “detailed equations and test results used in the development of technologically advanced titanium for U.S. military aircraft,” according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.