Earlier this month, Pakistan announced its intention to procure the Shenyang FC-31/J-31 fighter jet. During a ceremony, Pakistan Air Force Chief Zaheer Sidhu disclosed that the process of acquiring the J-31 stealth fighter was underway, and preparations were in progress. Sidhu, however, did not provide specific details regarding the number of jets Pakistan plans to acquire or the delivery schedule. The Shenyang FC-31/J-31, potentially designated J-35, is actively being developed by Shenyang for deployment on future China aircraft carriers, such as the CNS Shandong, though plans for a land-based version remain unclear.

It’s noteworthy that in the 2010s, AVIC conducted tests with a J-31 demonstrator, showcasing it in the flying display at the 2014 Airshow China in Zhuhai. Despite the People’s Liberation Army Air Force prioritizing the Chengdu J-20, now in service and gradually being deployed, the strong military ties between China and Pakistan are evident, notably through joint projects like the Chengdu/Pakistan Aeronautical Complex JF-17.

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In a unique position, Pakistan is the only country, besides China, operating the J-10. Specifically, the J-10C is actively deployed in the Pakistan Air Force’s 15 Squadron. Recent reports indicate Pakistan’s plan to acquire up to 25 J-10Cs.

Interestingly, Pakistan’s move to acquire the Shenyang FC-31/J-31 seems contradictory to a social media post by Turkish Defense Minister Yaser Guler in August of last year. According to Guler, Pakistan was on the verge of joining the Turkish Aerospace Industries Kaan fighter program. It’s worth noting that AVIC, the parent company of Shenyang, had previously considered collaboration with international partners on the FC-31/J-31 program. In a rare media briefing during the 2015 Dubai Air Show, AVIC promoted the FC-31/J-31 ‘Gyrfalcon’ as a low-observable jet with “multi-spectrum, low-observability characteristics.”

In 2015, AVIC mentioned that the first flight of a production FC-31/J-31 could occur in 2019, contingent on finding a well-funded customer. Pakistan, actively developing its aerospace sector, might find interest in acquiring such an advanced and stealthy aircraft.

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