China tested the latest version of its fifth-generation stealth fighter in an effort to end the West's monopoly on the world's most advanced warplanes, the state media reported on Monday.
This move comes just after the tension created by it sole aircraft carrier the Liaoning that was spotted into the western Pacific in recent days to lead drills there for the first time.
The China Daily reported that the newest version of the J-31, which has been now renamed as the FC-31 Gyrfalcon, took to the air for the first time on Friday.
According to reports, the so-called "fifth-generation" twin-engine jet is China's answer to the US F-35, which is considered to be the world's most technically advanced fighter. This fifth-generation stealth fighter has been manufactured by Shenyang Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of the Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC).
China Daily quoted Wu Peixin, an aviation expert saying that the new FC-31 has "better stealth capabilities along with improved electronic equipment and a larger payload capacity" than the previous version that debuted in October 2012.
"Changes were made to the airframe, wings and vertical tails which make it leaner, lighter and more manoeuvrable," Wu said.
The newspaper report also said that the fighter jet is expected to sell around US$70 million. It aims to take away the market share from more expensive fourth-generation fighters like the Eurofighter Typhoon.
The China Daily further reported that AVIC has said that the FC-31 will "put an end to some nations' monopolies on the fifth-generation fighter jet".
In recent years, China is aggressively moving to develop its own domestic weapons industry starting from drones and anti-aircraft systems to homegrown jet engines. However, in the past it has been often accused of copying designs from Russian fighters. Some analysts claim that the FC-31 bears a close resemblance to the F-35.
Once the FC-31 is completed, it will be China's second fifth-generation fighter after the J-20. The later was put on its first public performance at the Zhuhai Air Show in November.