While military observers have speculated that the Shenyang J-31 will replace the Shenyang J-15 as the PLA Navy's next generation carrier-based fighter, Sun Cong, deputy chief engineer at Aviation Industry Corporation of China, sayd the J-15 is likely to serve as China's only carrier-based fighter for another 10 years.
Li Xiaojian, a military analyst from Beijing, said it is more important for China to develop its own carrier-based electronic warfare aircraft instead of a new fighter to potentially replace the J-15. The J-15 is a good platform upon which to design China's first electronic warfare aircraft, Li said. It does not only have the ability to jam enemy radar and radio systems, but can also destroy its hardware.
For this reason, the J-15 plays a very similar role to the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet of the US Navy, which was designed to replace the Grumman F-14 Tomcat before the introduction of the Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II. Because the F-35C is currently too expensive for the US Navy to operate in large numbers, the Super Hornet is likely to serve until 2035, according to Boeing.
Originally, the J-31, China's second fifth-generation stealth fighter designed by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation was estimated to be China's next-generation carrier-based fighter, though it is still some years away from entering service.
However, Major General Zhang Zhaozhong of the PLA Navy told People's Daily that the J-31 was designed mainly for the overseas market rather than for China's own air force and navy.
Zhang stressed that, just like the CAC FC-1 Xiaolong (JF-17 Thunder) multirole fighter designed jointly by China and Pakistan, the J-31 will likely to be provided to Beijing's security partners in the region such as North Korea and Iran. http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?cid=1101&MainCatID=11&id=20131213000034