November 14, 2014 by Mike Hoffman - defensetech.org
China unveiled its version of the U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — the Shenyang FC-31 — at the biennial Zhuhai Air Show in a surprise to the rest of the world’s aviation community.
The military aviation display comes ahead of President Obama’s visit to Beijing for the APEC summit. It also comes right before Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had planned to visit U.S. allies in the Pacific. Hagel has since delayed that trip.
Many have speculated that China’s display of the FC-31 was meant as a show of force as the U.S. makes strides on its own F-35 program.
Rarely do the Chinese display an aircraft ahead of the completion of its development, which caused the ground swell when the FC-31 made headlines at the Chinese air show. Plenty of cameras from across the globe were pointed into the sky as foreign military leaders got their first up close look at the aircraft.