China’s J-20, a fifth-generation stealth fighter jet, has reportedly entered the mass production phase after replacing the Russian engine with the domestically produced WS-10.
Traditionally, Chinese jets have been powered by Russian-made engines, which have a relatively shorter service life. China has long aspired to develop its own engine and achieve maximum flexibility, thereby getting out of the limitations the Russian engines create.
In September 2021, two J-20 stealth aircraft made their debut with the domestically-built engines at the opening ceremony of the Zhuhai Air Show in south China’s Guangdong Province.
According to the state-run Global Times, the J-20 ‘Mighty Dragon’ recently set records in terms of aircraft deliveries due to great demand, with experts claiming it has reached the mass manufacturing phase after being outfitted with the domestically made engine.
All PLA eastern, southern, western, northern and central theater commands will soon operate J-20 stealth fighters as the jet’s production ramps up. They will become the main force to safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial airspace security: experts https://t.co/xLEtqRy9wY
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) December 12, 2021
Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Group Co Ltd has been dealing with difficult research and development, production, and delivery missions since the beginning of the fourth quarter, the company said in a statement posted on its social media account.
The corporation accomplished several significant test flight missions during this time, and indexes related to aircraft delivery have reached new heights. Seven of the nine images linked to the statement show J-20 test flights, one shows a J-10, and one depicts staff members’ work. This could indicate that J-20 production is ramping up, according to Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, as quoted by Global Times.
China’s J-20 fighter jet, armed with missiles. (Wikimedia Commons)
The shift to domestically produced WS-10 engines from Russian-made ones has enabled mass manufacturing, said Fu, who also noted that other systems aboard the J-20, such as the avionics, radar, and weapons systems, were already built locally.
The Mighty Dragon now is in a position to enter mass production, since there are no restrictions imposed by engine imports, and the homemade WS-10 engine has already been tried and tested on other aircraft such as the J-10, J-11, and J-16, Fu said.
“We will see J-20s operated by all eastern, southern, western, northern, and central theater commands in a short time,” Fu said, “and they will become the main force to guarantee China’s sovereignty and territorial airspace security.” The J-20 will continue to evolve in the future, with Fu predicting that it would switch to more modern engines.
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