China’s J-20 fighter jet enters into mass production stage

A new and improved engine designed to make China’s J-20 stealth fighter a world-class combat jet should be ready for mass production by the end of the year, reports South China Morning Post.

China currently has about 20 J-20s, which is far from enough. The Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group is thought to have built about 20 J-20s by the end of last year, but problems with the jets’ engines delayed production.

Before the WS-15 engines – code name Emei – were ready, the J-20 used either the Chinese WS-10B or the Russian-made AL-31FM2/3 power plants, which reduced its manoeuvrability and stealth capabilities at supersonic speeds.

The WS-15 engine features single-crystal turbine blades and has been in development for several years, but Chinese technicians have struggled to get it into mass production.

However, many of the problems – which largely related to blades overheating at top speeds – have been ironed out in ground tests and trial flights, putting the goal of a consistently high quality product in sight, sources told the South China Morning Post.

Although some problems remained, these should be resolved once the engine had been more “extensively run in the aircraft”, the source said.

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