China has conducted the first demonstration flight of its new indigenously manufactured fourth-generation fighter aircraft at the ongoing China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition (Airshow China) in Zhuhai.

The J-31 is the second aircraft to be domestically built by Shenyang Aircraft after J-20 and has design features and equipment similar to those of the US F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter, as reported by The Washington Free Beacon.

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Reports emerged that China allegedly stole secrets from the fifth-generation F-35 through cyber attacks against a subcontractor for Lockheed Martin.

The flight test coincides with the US President Obama’s visit to the country for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing.

International Assessment and Strategy Center Chinese military specialist Rick Fisher said: "Shenyang has also displayed a large model of an advanced development of the J-31, that it calls the FC-31.

"The FC-31 shows key design refinements intended to increase platform stealth, or to increase radar reflectivity."

"The FC-31 shows key design refinements intended to increase platform stealth, or to increase radar reflectivity. These include new horizontal stabilisers, reshaped wings, and a revised rear fuselage area."

Aviation Industry Corporation of China general manager Li Yuhai was quoted by Global Times as saying that the J-31 is comparable with the F-35 fighter and will change the current scenario by taking a lead role in the aircraft export market.

However, US Air Force lieutenant general (retired) Tom McInerney said: "Neither the J-20 or the J-31 will match the F-22 or F-35 in stealth performance but their successors will and we should be concerned as China is a looming economic and military power."

Having performed its maiden test flight in October 2012, the twin-engine J-31 fighter has since completed at least six aerial tests, according to the publication.

Image: The new Chinese J-31 fighter bears resemblance to the US F-35 Lightning II aircraft. Photo: courtesy of MSgt John Nimmo Sr.

Defence Technology