Chinese stealth fighter J-20 with a new engine alarmed the US military

The military space sector of the People's Republic of China in recent years prefers to remain silent about its important technological achievements, even during major international exhibitions, where any innovations are usually presented with great fanfare. At the recent Paris Air Show, the China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) did not announce any News about its most advanced 5th generation stealth fighter Chengdu J-20, limiting itself to showing its miniature model among many others at the company's booth in the showroom.

But shortly after the end of the Paris air show, a video emerged showing the J-20 making its first public flight, powered by a pair of new domestically built Woshan-15 (WS-15) engines built in Xi'an. This represents a major breakthrough, especially as the highly publicized new “adaptive engine” for the US F-35, which the Pentagon has invested about $4 billion in development, was so far from being ready that it is now only being discussed in relation to the end of the 2020s.

Bringing the WS-15 to a successful operational state is an important milestone for the Chinese aerospace industry. That the PLA now has an engine that delivers the range and payload performance the J-20 was designed for from the start makes the fighter more dangerous for the US and partner nations in the Pacific who could potentially face it in combat. The new engines provide a significant performance boost over the previous J-20 models, the Russian AL-31FN and the upgraded WS-10 variants built by Shenyang Liming Aircraft Engine Company.

- indicates the American military publication Breaking Defense.

According to military analysts, the development of its own designs of advanced jet engines for military aircraft for three decades was the most important factor that allowed China's aircraft industry to be considered "lagging behind" the world leaders. All these years, AVIC's military aviation programs have been forced to rely almost exclusively on jet engines manufactured and imported from Russia.

The J-20, like the previous generation J-10 fighter, developed by Chinese aircraft designers from Chengdu, was originally equipped with Russian engines. Having purchased the AL-31FN manufactured by the Saturn plant, the Chinese in the early 2010s realized that their future WS-15 would not be ready for the first serial batches of aircraft, and requested from Moscow a large number of reactive engines of the Al-41F series (“deep modernization” of the Al-31F power plant is currently used at the Su-35C, as well as in the first series of SU -57 of the 5th generation).

Moscow refused the Chinese, saying that the only way to get access to the design of the engine and Technology is to purchase an export model of the Su-35S. The negotiation process dragged on for years, and at the end of 2015, a deal to supply the PLA with 24 Su-35S aircraft worth over $2 billion was finalized. Under the same contract, “spare” engines were also supplied to China, the exact number of which was not reported. From statements made by Saturn representatives at the time, it followed that the Chinese had purchased "about eight spare engines for each aircraft."

But at the same time, China has invested a lot of effort and resources to promote its own production of aircraft engines to the forefront. As early as August 2016, it was announced that the various jet engine divisions within AVIC would be merged into a new independent entity, the AeroEngine Corporation of China (AECC), with a registered capital of $7,5 billion and a staff of 96 people. The development and release of WS-000 was just one of several ambitious projects.

Models of Chinese-made engines, which were equipped with various serial batches of J-20, gradually increased the aircraft's performance. The original WS-10 engine had a thrust of 7,5 tons, the improved thrust variant (WS-10B) is rated close to 9,0, and the WS-10C is rated at 9,5 or better—already considered sufficient for the J-20's super cruise capability. The thrust of the WS-15 Emei engine is believed to exceed 10 tons

- reports the Hong Kong edition of the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

However, the Chinese competitor of the Russian "Product 30" has not yet reached the stage of mass production, and Western experts have fair doubts about its reliability and a number of other parameters.

The WS-15 engines seen in photos so far do not appear to have the thrust vector control module that the J-20's performance requires. But, if you do not curtail the export to China of one of the most advanced 5- and 7-axis machines in the world, these and all other shortcomings will disappear over time.

Breaking Defense notes.
  • Photos used: emperornie/
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  1. Sergey Latyshev Offline Sergey Latyshev
    Sergey Latyshev (Serge) 25 July 2023 15: 10
    In any case, aircraft engines have already mastered. It remains to improve the quality.
    Which, according to specialized sites, they do with success. They wrote that they improve the quality of their engines by 5-10% per year.

    Perhaps they will also supply us later ... for resources ...
    1. savage3000 Online savage3000
      savage3000 (Savage) 25 July 2023 15: 34
      It is unlikely that they have mastered something there.
  2. savage3000 Online savage3000
    savage3000 (Savage) 25 July 2023 15: 34
    its most advanced 5th generation stealth fighter Chengdu J-20,

    Why spread this nonsense?

    The 5th generation is only in the USA and Russia. Dot. No need to invent.
  3. 1_2 Offline 1_2
    1_2 (Ducks are flying) 25 July 2023 17: 11
    in fact, the WS-15 engine is a Yak-141 engine with a thrust of up to 18t -19t. all the docks for it were sold in the 90s. but apparently the manufacturing technology (blades?) was not sold. therefore, the Chinese have been chemistry for a very long time, and it’s not yet a fact that they have made an engine with a sufficient resource. maybe they also have a "one-time" one, like on f35
  4. ont65 Offline ont65
    ont65 (Oleg) 26 July 2023 01: 15
    There is no doubt that the Chinese will not pull. China is a powerful industrial power. They do not spare money for their own technologies and developments, and most importantly, they have them. For them, it's only a matter of time.
  5. NABA Philippines (NABA) 26 July 2023 15: 58
    Je suis un jeune du Burkina Faso passionné de la Russie, particulièrement de l'aviation civile et militaire russe. J'ai suivi aussi un peu le développement de la chine, et je pense que la chine copie beaucoup. Je crois pas du tout que les chinois puisse fabriquer un moteur d'avion qui va égaler les moteurs russes et americains.
  6. NABA Philippines (NABA) 26 July 2023 16: 00
    la presse Occidentale n'a jamais apprécié positivement la technologie Russe pourtant elle est meilleure à la leur à bien des égards. Je ne sais pas pourquoi la presse Occidentale veut dénigrer le moteur type 30 Russe pourtant la Russie a fait des gros progrès et a réussi à sortir un très bon type 30 qui va bientot equiper le SU-57
  7. savage3000 Online savage3000
    savage3000 (Savage) 16 August 2023 21: 29
    5th generation stealth fighter

    Author, do you understand the topic at all? What the hell is the 5th generation in China? They have no engines, no afars, no mat apparatus for all this.
  8. twice-born Offline twice-born
    twice-born (Unknown) 5 September 2023 16: 43
    Some kind of suspicious coincidence in timing: when ours modified the engine for the Su-57, the Chinese suddenly made their own!
    Now, during the war and sanctions, ours could easily agree to transfer such technologies in exchange for their help and loyalty. But it doesn’t look like the Chinese are helping us much!