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Patent hints at Chinese vertical take-off fighter with some F-35 capabilities

Image from a patent filed by the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation as revealed by veteran defense reporter Wendell Minnick, indicate it may be developing a short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) class multirole fighter.
FPI / May 31, 2023


By Richard Fisher

China’s Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) may be developing a novel design short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) multi-role fighter that could fill a longstanding gap in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ambitions to build a military force capable of greater global power projection.

In his “China In Arms” newsletter published on May 27 on Substack (, Taipei-based veteran defense reporter Wendell Minnick revealed that the Chengdu Aircraft Co. had filed a May 23 patent with the China National Intellectual Property Administration describing a delta-wing fighter with likely vertical take-off and landing capability.

Such a patent does not confirm such an aircraft is being built, as it did not disclose the designation of the fighter or potential performance data, nevertheless, images in the patent do reveal much about this potential fighter.

China has long sought to develop its own vertical take-off and landing fighter (VSTOL), having imported a copy of the British Hawker Harrier in the 2000s, while have long sought Russian VSTOL technology, especially from the Yak-141 supersonic STOVL fighter of the late 1980s.

Chinese strategists were deeply impressed by Britain’s use of the Harrier in 1983 to wrest control of the Falklands Islands away from Argentina and have followed the U.S. Marine Corp’s adoption of multiple versions of the Harrier and its development of the Lockheed-Martin F-35B STOVL fighter.

It is clear that the Chengdu STOVL design is greatly influenced by Chengdu’s J-10C fighter, of which hundreds are in service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).

Like the J-10C, it utilizes an under-nose diverterless air intake to enhance stealth performance, has a delta wing, but instead of forward-mounted canard surfaces, has long “chines” ahead of the delta wing to enhance lift.

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