China's new stealth fighter could certainly "take down" its opponent in the sky, the president of China's top aircraft maker said on Tuesday, referring to its U.S.-made counterpart.
Lin Zuoming, president of Aviation Industry Corp of China (Avic), which developed the J-31 stealth fighter, made the remarks in an interview on state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV).
"When it takes to the sky, it can definitely take it down," he said, in a reference to the U.S.-made F-35. "That's a certainty."
Lin also emphasized the company's desire to compete with the United States in new markets, particularly countries the U.S. will not sell military equipment to as well as countries that cannot afford the pricier F-35.
"The next-generation air forces that are unable to buy the F-35 have no way to build themselves up. We don't believe the situation should be that way," he said.
"This world should be balanced," Lin added. "Good things shouldn't all be pushed to one party."
China unveiled the highly anticipated twin-engine fighter jet at an air show last month, a show of muscle during a visit to the country by U.S. President Barack Obama.
Stealth aircraft are key to China developing the ability to carry out both offensive and defensive operations, the Pentagon said in a report about developments in China's military.
China hopes the J-31 will compete with the U.S.-made F-35 stealth aircraft as China works to strengthen its standing as an arms producer, according to China military watchers and state media reports.
"Experts predict that the J-31 will make rapid inroads in the international market in the future, and will undoubtedly steal the limelight from the F-35," the ruling Communist Party's People's Daily reported on its website in August 2013.
It said the aircraft would be particularly attractive to countries that are cut off from U.S. arms exports.
The J-31 is about the same size as the F-35, the U.S. Department of Defense said in a report this year.
Stealth aircraft are key for China's air force to evolve from a mostly territorial air force to developing the ability to carry out both offensive and defensive operations, the Pentagon said in the report about developments in China's military.
The J-31 is China's second domestically produced stealth fighter jet.
President Xi Jinping has pushed to toughen the country's 2.3 million-strong armed forces as China takes a more assertive stance in the region, particularly in the South China and East China seas. (Editing by Jeremy Laurence)