A newly built J-10C fighter has been fitted with a domestically developed WS-10 Taihang engine to replace the Russian-made AL-31 engine.
The development could come as bad news for Russia’s United Engine Corporation which supplied engines for China’s fighter jets for decades including for its showpiece aircraft, the J-20 stealth jet.
Currently the J-20 uses the Russian AL-31FM2/3 engines and is expected to transition to a more powerful WS-15 engine which many observers believe is inspired or reverse-engineered from the Russian AL-31 engine that goes into the Su-35 fighter jet.
The WS-10 Taihang is China’s first high-performance, high-thrust turbofan engine with intellectual property rights, Chinese Central Television reported.
A video released over the weekend by Chengdu Aircraft Industrial (Group) showed a J-10C fighter jet painted with Chinese military aircraft insignia taxiing on an airfield before take-off displayed the new engine moniker, Chinese media reported.
China will continue to improve the engine and will no longer rely on imported products, Wei said.
Some J-11B and J-16 fighter jets have been using WS-10 engines for a while now in twin engine configuration. But using the engine in the J-10, a single engine aircraft indicates that the WS-10 engine has become very reliable.
China’s stealth fighter jet, J-20, which was also developed by the AVIC’s Chengdu branch, could also use the WS-10 engine in the future, Wei said.
China is also developing the WS-15, a more powerful turbofan engine, for the J-20, media reported.