Not long after the J-31 fighter prototype from Avic’s Shenyang Aircraft Corp. appeared in 2012, analysts realized that it was not, after all, a new combat aircraft for the Chinese military. It was just a technology demonstrator from a well-resourced but frustrated state company that had lost two air force fighter competitions in a row. Now the J-31 has indeed become a government-funded project, apparently rescued by the shortcomings of the J-15, a naval Flanker derivative also built ...

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