China’s second stealthy looking fighter design took off on its maiden flight from an airfield in northeastern China last week, according to international press reports. The black-painted Shenyang J-31 prototype flew for 11 minutes, during which its undercarriage remained in the landing configuration before touching down during the Oct. 31 sortie, reported AFP. The aircraft, alternately referred to as the F-60 or J-21, first appeared in photos leaked in June. It bears a strong external resemblance to the F-22. “The layout is similar, but the material and quality are inferior,” said Chinese military expert Andrei Chang in AFP’s report. The first flight came weeks ahead of current Chinese President Hu Jintao’s planned handover of power to his successor. “I think the regime is trying to show off . . . that the Hu Jintao regime achieved a lot for China,” added Chang.
As the Pentagon increasingly pivots its focus to strategic competition with China, the U.S. will look to expand its partnership with South Korea to increase security across the entire Indo-Pacific region, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said Dec. 2 during a visit to the northeastern Asian nation.