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Global Times: China ramps up J-20 stealth fighter production after domestic engine switch

beijingwalker

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Global Times: China ramps up J-20 stealth fighter production after domestic engine switch

Published: Dec 12, 2021 10:34 PM

J-20 jets, China's most advanced stealth fighter jets powered by domestic engines, made their debut at the opening ceremony of the China Airshow 2021 in the host city Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province on Tuesday.Photo: Cui Meng/GT

J-20 jets, China's most advanced stealth fighter jets powered by domestic engines, made their debut at the opening ceremony of the China Airshow 2021 in the host city Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province on Tuesday.Photo: Cui Meng/GT

The maker of the J-20, China's most advanced stealth fighter jet, revealed that it recently broke records in terms of aircraft delivery due to high demand, with experts saying on Sunday that the J-20 has entered a mass production phase after it solved the last missing piece of the puzzle, the domestically developed WS-10 engine.

Since the start of the fourth quarter, Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Group Co Ltd under the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China has been facing challenging research and development, production and delivery missions, as multiple users were waiting to receive delivery of many aircraft, the company said in a statement released over the weekend on its social media account.

In this period, the company completed several key test flight missions, and indexes related to aircraft delivery have broken record highs, the statement said.

Out of nine photos attached to the statement, seven depict test flights of the J-20, one shows a test flight of the J-10, and one shows the work of staff members.

This could be an indication that the production of the J-20 is being ramped up, Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force displayed J-20s equipped with domestically developed engines at Airshow China 2021.

The switch to domestically made WS-10 engines from imported ones has made mass production possible, Fu said, noting that other systems on the J-20, including the avionics system, radar system and weapons systems, were already domestically developed.

Now that there is no limitation caused by the import of engines, and the homemade WS-10 engine has been tested on other aircraft like the J-10, J-11 and J-16, the J-20 is in a position to start mass production, Fu said.

Responding to an inquiry from the Global Times concerning the production capacity of the J-20 at a press conference at Airshow China in late September, Wang Haitao, deputy designer of the aircraft, said that China's aviation industry can satisfy any level of demand from the PLA Air Force.

It is good to see the industry is busy, because this means the J-20 has started entering service in large numbers, Fu said.

"In a short time, we will be able to see J-20s operated by all eastern, southern, western, northern and central theater commands, and become the main force to safeguard China's sovereignty and territorial airspace security," Fu predicted.

For the next step, the J-20 will continue to evolve, for example, by switching to use more advanced engines, Fu said

 

beijingwalker

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Challenging F-22 Raptors, J-20 Stealth Jets To Get New Thrust Vectoring Engines As China Says ‘Closing The Gap’​

By Sakshi Tiwari
-March 11, 2022

In recent times, China has claimed to have achieved substantial advancement in military technology with an eye on enhancing the combat capability of its Air Force. It has been aggressively promoting its stealth fighters, the J-20, and JC-31 as it aims to match the US.

Chinese analysts believe that the hostility with its neighbors in the South China Sea and with the United States in the wider Indo-Pacific has necessitated technological innovation to narrow down the capability gap with the US, especially in jet engine development.

To that end, China has now become capable of resolving complex problems with fighter jet engines, owing to efforts such as the establishment of a laboratory dedicated to aviation component research, claimed the Chinese political advisor who delivered domestically developed engine technologies for the J-20, state-run Global Times reported.

Chinese analysts have stated that China’s technical gap with leading countries like the United States in terms of jet engines has closed, and advanced technologies like higher thrust-weight ratio, vector thrust control, and variable cycle are likely under development.

微信图片_20220312154803.png

J-20 Stealth Aircraft
This announcement comes shortly after China hiked its defense budget to 1.45 trillion yuan ($230 billion), up by 7.1% from $209 billion last year, a significant part of which is to be allocated to the production of J-20s, as previously reported by the EurAsian Times.

Further, China had announced in January that it will begin upgrading the engines of its most sophisticated stealth fighter jet, the J-20 this year, to get it closer to the performance of the American F-22 Raptor.

The J-20 is powered by the indigenously developed WS-10C engine which is currently being upgraded with thrust-vector technology.

The technology, which was being worked on for two decades in China is supposed to add more teeth to the engine and enhance the maneuverability of the J-20 aircraft to match the capability of the American F-22. To rival the Raptors in the long run, the J-20 fighter jets will be later equipped with WS-15 engines.

These developments demonstrate that China is working hard to not only improve its technological capabilities but also to achieve self-sufficiency so that it can compete with, if not outperform, the US Air Force.

Self Sufficiency and Complete Capability

Li Zhiqiang, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said in a report by China Central Television (CCTV) that China has gained full capability to develop engines for military aircraft independently – from designing to manufacturing, then from experimenting to test flights.

Li, who is also the head of the Manufacturing Technology Institute of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China, which is the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s main warplane contractor, said that jet engines are at the heart of aircraft, and that China must be able to supply them independently, as importing them will inevitably limit the capabilities of Chinese warplanes.

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WS-10C engines developed indigenously by China (via Twitter)

He has been leading researchers in the development of advanced jet engines since the 1990s, and has built a dedicated laboratory to develop aviation components. The special focus of the lab is to be on the hot forming and super plastic forming of titanium alloy, according to CCTV.

In one case, a six-year-old fan blade snapped after only 60 seconds, according to Li, who added that despite the failure, the team searched for and eventually rectified the problem. According to the study, these technologies are now widely deployed on Chinese fighters, notably the J-20.

China’s advanced weapon and equipment manufacturing lagged significantly behind that of industrialised countries thirty years ago, and China had to learn from whatever they were doing. However, China no longer needs to look to others since it can do whatever it wants, according to Li.


People used to say China was 20 to 30 years behind leading countries like the US in terms of jet engine development, but Wang Ya’nan, chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times that the gap is gradually narrowing, maybe to 10 to 15 years.

Some of the most anticipated technologies, such as engines with a greater thrust-to-weight ratio, engines with vector thrust control, and variable cycle engines, are likely in the works, according to Wang.

Engine Development

Due to the enormous complexity and intricacy of the technology that countries preserve so zealously, even reverse-engineering experts like the Chinese had not been able to master jet engines for a long time and were almost completely dependent on Russia for powering its fighter jets.

Out of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, only the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, and France could develop capable and reliable jet engines (including turbojets and turbofans) for commercial and military use.

China’s journey towards constructing a fully functional aero-engine has been rough at best, as part of a drive to eventually totally replace the Russian-made AL-31F turbofans, as previously explained by the EurAsian Times.

Worse, the Covid-19 outbreak put a stop to testing and development of the WS-15 engine, which is designed to compete with the Pratt & Whitney F-119 that powers the F-22 Raptors and has been plagued by problems. The J-20s were to be integrated with the WS-15 but test failures led to China finally settling with the homegrown WS-10C.

There were rumors earlier that the J-20 was flying with the WS-15 engine to test its capabilities. The assessment was based on certain leaked pictures. According to the source, the J-20 was equipped with a WS-15 and WS-10 engine. It could not, however, be independently verified.


The WS-15 had been in the works for a time, with the goal of powering the J-20 and J-31 (FC-31) fifth-generation stealth aircraft, but it was shelved due to a succession of failed tests and evaluations. With new claims regarding breakthroughs in engine development, it remains to be seen if the WS-15 would be fitted on stealth fighters any time soon.

Beijing was aggressively upgrading its J-20 fighter jets, according to a Pentagon report on the Chinese PLA provided to the US Congress in 2021.

The Chinese were believed to be adding a thrust-vectoring nozzle and an F-22-like “supercruise” capability with the installation of indigenous WS-15 engines, according to the report.

The Raptor’s thrust-vector technology allows it to change the direction of engine thrust, allowing it to perform sudden maneuvers that previous aircraft generations couldn’t.

With the Chinese official’s own declaration, the US report’s findings stand true. It is also noteworthy that China has been focusing on the F-22 Raptors, the most lethal and advanced fifth-generation fighter jet in the US arsenal, to compete with.

For its part, the US too has been making observations regarding the Chinese Air Force with its top boss speculating that the American superiority could be lost by 2035. China’s indigenous development of jet engines has also allowed it to end its dependence on Russia which remains marred with sanctions.

 

Tariq Habib Afridi

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Isn't this will make it as J-20C :P also the ramps up and the possibility of acquiring J-20 as mentioned by interior minister of Pakistan Sheikh Rasheed will surely wet the pants of Indians?
 

beijingwalker

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Isn't this will make it as J-20C :P also the ramps up and the possibility of acquiring J-20 as mentioned by interior minister of Pakistan Sheikh Rasheed will surely wet the pants of Indians?
J-20 is always there for friends, they are expensive to maintain so I guess in peace time it's not necessary for Pakistan to burden this heavy fund, but in case of crisis, with fast integration of the two armies, they can be flying to Pakistan in matter of hours,
 

RealNapster

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Some of the most anticipated technologies, such as engines with a greater thrust-to-weight ratio, engines with vector thrust control, and variable cycle engines, are likely in the works, according to Wang

Life of engine also matters. Western engines typically have operational life of 6000-10000 hours. Russian on the other hand 2500-3500 hours. What about Chinese engines in current times ?
 

beijingwalker

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Life of engine also matters. Western engines typically have operational life of 6000-10000 hours. Russian on the other hand 2500-3500 hours. What about Chinese engines in current times ?
Info varies on this, but the performance is being improved massively year on year with new up to date technologies, new breakthroughs are being made once every several months, this makes Chinese engines different from US and Russian ones.
 

RealNapster

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Info varies on this, but the performance is being improved massively year on year with new up to date technologies, new breakthroughs are being made once every several months, this makes Chinese engines different from US and Russian ones.

It's understandable. West didn't invented 6000 hour life engine in 50's. They achieved this milestone much later. I predict China will have 4000 hrs operational life engine by 2026-27. With improvement in technologies, further advancements and research will make them more competitive with passage of time. But what about the current state ? What are the rumoured life cycles of each Chinese made engine ?
 

Indos

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You mean WS-10 or WS-15? WS-10 is on J 20 for some time now, WS-15 probably not.


图为国发版歼20战机


图为歼20的“太行”发动机喷口

Integrating the engine and use it in the plane flying test bed is different with using the engine under the mass production line. That photo proves nothing. Journalist always has insider information inside the program rather than some Twitter account
 

beijingwalker

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It's understandable. West didn't invented 6000 hour life engine in 50's. They achieved this milestone much later. I predict China will have 4000 hrs operational life engine by 2026-27. With improvement in technologies, further advancements and research will make them more competitive with passage of time. But what about the current state ? What are the rumoured life cycles of each Chinese made engine ?
Engine technology is supported by all other technologies, China's development is not only on one or two sectors, it's all across the board, many up to date new frontier technologies are only becoming available in recently couples of years which can be applied to future engines. Like China's achievement in EV cars and phones, it's reported that China is exploring new types of revolutionary trans generational engines, which will make all current legacy engines obsolete.

Integrating the engine and use it in the plane flying test bed is different with using the engine under the mass production line. That photo proves nothing. Journalist always has insider information inside the program rather than some Twitter account
Does China's chief engine designer's words mean anything?
 

Indos

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