TheChinese Airforcerelied on older Soviet-madewar planes for decades. The staple diet of the Chinese Airforce was the MIg-19( Farmer) and MIG-21( Bison). The Chinese used the MIG-15 in Korea and lost them in vast numbers to the superior skill of the American pilots. The Chinese realized that to be a world power they needed to develop their own aircraft industry and so the central committee of the ruling Communist party instructed its scientists to match the world's best planes. Technology cannot be built in a decade and so all credit to theChinese who did reverse engineering and copied Russian planes as well as American technology by any means.

Latest Chinese fighter

The results have borne fruit and the Chinese built off a plane, the SU-27 which they had bought from Russia. The result is a potent 5th generation fighterthe J-20 and J-31.The main aim of theChinese is to match the F-22 and Raptor of the US Airforce. The plane to do this is the J-31 also referred to as the Gyrfalcon. This is a 5th generation stealth fighter and the Chinese are developing it feverishly.

The J-20 and the J-31 will complement each other and the J-20 is closer to deployment. The J-31 may make an appearance by 2020. The J-20 and J-31 will operate in tandem, akin to the US plan to integrate the F-22 and 35 in combat. The J-31 has a speed of Mach 2 and a combat radius of 2000 km.

The aircraft sports the latest avionics and stealth capabilities and will be the key to China's domination in a tactical conflict.

J-31 role

Unlike the J-20 which can be used for long-range strike missions, the J-31 will help establish air superiority over a combat zone. the US air force feels that the J-31 could match the US airforce F-16 and 18 but not the F-22 and F-35.

The Chinese are however leaving nothing to chance and have contracted with Russia to supply them the S-35 Super Flanker. The Russians however, will be wary as earlier China copied theSu- 27 and brought in their own J-11.

The Chinese airforce is now gearing up to the challenge of facing US power and that is cause for worry. Nehru had said "A strong China is always an expansionist China" and the US will do well to keep this in mind.