China begun retrofitting WS10B engine into J-10C fourth-gen fighter jet

A J-10C is fitted with WS-10B Engine.

A screengrab from CCTV footage released on 2 March showing a J-10C multirole fighter in PLAAF markings fitted with a Chinese-made WS10B engine.

China has begun retrofitting locally made Shenyang-Liming WS10B ‘Taihang’-series engines into its J-10 multirole fighter aircraft, images released on 2 March by state-owned broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) suggest.

The images show an apparently newly built Chengdu Aircraft Industries Company (CAIC) J-10C fighter aircraft in People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) markings fitted with what appears to a WS10B engine, rather than the Russian-made Saturn AL-31FN turbofan that normally powers these aircraft. All main-production J-10s built by 2018, about 300 aircraft, appear to be powered by the AL-31FN.

Some J-11B and J-16 fighter jets have been using WS-10A engines for a while, but the two types of aircraft use two engines, and the J-10, which only uses one, is more vulnerable to engine failure, analysts said, noting that this is a further indication that the WS-10B engine may be an improved variant but we need to wait and see the latest production run, Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, said.

It is unclear when or where the CCTV images were taken but the pictured aircraft, which appears to be almost ready for delivery, seems to be part of the fourth production batch of J-10Cs for the PLAAF.

Meanwhile, an image allegedly taken in mid-December 2019 but only posted recently on Chinese online forums suggests that the fifth batch of J-10C fighters is currently undergoing testing. The blurry photograph shows a J-10C painted in yellow primer and bearing what appears to be serial number 502 during a test flight at CAIC’s production facility in Chengdu Huangtianba.

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