China’s J-10C fighter aircraft with indigenous WS-10 Taihang engines have entered operational service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).
Images released by China National TV from a PLAAF live shooting exercise at an unspecified location show J-10C ‘Vigorous Dragons’ with distinctive WS-10B Taihang turbofan engine exhaust nozzles, marking the first time that the WS-10 has been officially seen in an operational J-10.
The presence of the WS-10 Taihang in an operational J-10C fighter jet is indicative that the engine now is now “technically stable, reliable and mature,” local media reported citing military experts.
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.
The J-10C is an aircraft that has been produced in large batches. So if it is now using the Taihang engine, it could be an indication that this version has also been delivered to the PLA in numbers, Wang Ya'nan, chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Thursday.
Wang said China is expected to develop more advanced engines with larger thrust-to-weight ratios, longer service life, more efficient maintenance standards and intelligent control technologies to fit the needs of new-generation aircraft.
The service tried to field an earlier version of the WS-10 called the WS-10A, although it was found that the engine’s nominal dry thrust output – believed to be around the 132kN range – was deemed insufficient for future growth despite further development work to mature its design since it’s public unveiling at the 2006 edition of Airshow China. Reliability was also reportedly to be an issue, so plans to mass produce the WS-10A engine for fleetwide installation were eventually dropped to focus on further development.
According to Chinese media, the WS-10B employs significant amounts of advanced materials as high-strength titanium alloys, single crystal turbine blades, advanced superalloys, and high-temperature resin-based composite materials.