Pictures of a new stealth fighter, the J-21 and/or J-31, showed up on time for the visit of US Defense secretary Leon Panetta to China, writes defense specialist Wendell Minnick in Defense News.
It is unclear if the appearance of the photos was timed with Panetta’s trip, but the first photos of the Chengdu-built J-20 Black Eagle appeared the same week as former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ visit to China in January 2011.
The new photographs show a twin-engine stealthy fighter with the number 31001 painted on its nose.
The number suggests it is the J-31 Falcon, said Richard Fisher, an Asia military affairs analyst at the Washington-based International Assessment and Strategy Center, but various Chinese-language blogs are debating the designation; with some suggesting it is the J-21 Snowy Owl built by Shenyang Aircraft Corp. (SAC).
In June, several videos appeared on the Internet showing a fighter fuselage, wrapped in a tarp, being transported along a highway from SAC to the Chinese Flight Test Establishment, an air force test center at Xian-Yanliang Airbase, Shaanxi Province. Whether the fuselage was the J-21 is still a matter of debate.
Wendell Minnick is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.
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