J-21/AMF GyrfalconThe J-21 (Project 310?) Falcon 01 prototype was approaching the SAC airfield after its successful maiden flight on October 31, 2012. A scale-down model (F-60) of J-21 was first unveiled by the 601 Institute at the first International UAV Innovation Grand Prix held in Beijing in September 2011. It was first rumored in April 2011 that 601/SAC has been developing a 4th generation medium multi-role stealth fighter as J-21 (Project 310) since 2007 after its own heavy stealth fighter design lost the bid to 611/CAC's J-20 (see above).The aircraft has a conventional design with twin engines and two large slanted trapezoidal tailfins similar to American F-22. As the result the ventral stabilizing fins are eliminated to save weight and reduce RCS. In addition it features DSIs, two piece canopy and a pentagon shaped nose similar to F-35.
Like J-20, a retractable IFR proble could be installed on the starboard side slightly forward of the canopy. As a 4th generation fighter J-21 is believed to have advanced avionics onboard such as an AESA radar. The prototype is expected initially to be powered by the 8.5t class RD-93/WS-13A turbofan (without TVC) but later by the new 9.5t class "Medium Thrust" engine (WS-12/Tianshan? or WS-13B, might feature TVC). The RD-93 engine nozzles on the prototype appear without any stealth measures applied. However they are partially shielded by the two horizontal tailfins extending rearward, similar to F-35, thus reduces the IR and radar signatures. J-21 features a single internal weapon bay inside its belly housing up to 4 (?) AAMs including PL-10, PL-12 or PL-15. It may also be able to carry the larger YJ-83K AshM and YJ-91 ARM externally.
However due to its relatively small size and lower engine thrust compared to J-20, J-21 might suffer from either a limited internal payload or a shorter combat radius. It is not expected to have the super-cruise capability initially either when powered by RD-93. Some specifications (speculated): length 16.9m, height 4.8m, wingspan 11.5m, normal TO wight 17.5t, combat radius 1,250km with internal fuel, max level speed Mach 1.8, TO distance 400m. A full-scale metal model was probably built in early 2011. One airframe was transported to the 623 Institute in Yanliang for static tests in June 2012. The first prototype was under construction since late 2011. Its first flight took place on October 31, 2012, powered by two smoky RD-93 turbofans. As a private venture of AVIC, J-21 (dubbed AMF/Advanced Multi-role Fighter) is expected to be promoted at the international market as a low-cost alternative to American F-35. Therefore it could have some negative impact on the prospects of FC-1/JF-17 in 7-10 years. Its first foreign customer is likely to be Pakistani AF. As for the domestic market, it appears to be a good candidate to replace all the remaining J-7E/G series light fighters still in service with PLAAF and PLAN, as the production of J-10 series will be limited to around 300.
It was rumored that J-21 could compete with the other stealth fighter design from 611 Institute for the next generation PLAN carrier-based stealth fighter but this has not been confirmed. J-21 was partially unveiled at 2012 Zhuhai Airshow as an "advanced fighter concept", featuring a one-piece canopy.
- Last Updated 1/24/13