J-10 Fighter to be Fitted with a Chinese-Made Engine
17 April 2007
Chinese media reported on 15 April that the Chengdu J-10 fighter was to be fitted with a indigenously-built engine "within this year".
According to the report, a senior official of Chengdu-based 611 Aircraft Design Institute recently told the press that although the early production variant of the J-10 was fitted with a foreign-made engine for lower risk, the fighter would certainly be fitted with a Chinese indigenous engine, and this was likely to happen this year.
Currently the J-10 fighters in service with the PLA Air Force are powered by a Russian-made Lyulka-Saturn AL-31F turbofan engine. This means that the aircraft cannot be sold to a foreign customer without Russia’s consent. Such a limitation was reflected in the sale of another Chinese-made fighter FC-1/JF-17, which also uses the Russian-made engine. To avoid offending its biggest weapon buyer India, Russia was reluctant to allow the fighter powered by its RD93 engine to be exported to Pakistan, causing delays in the delivery of the fighter.
China has been developing its own WS-10A (commercial name: Taihang) turbofan engine for over a decade, but the project has encountered enormous technical difficulties. The engine was only certified for design finalisation in early 2006. Integration of the engine with the J-10 fighter is believed to be underway at Chengdu Aircraft Corporation.
Although the J-10 has yet been offered to the export market, many countries including Pakistan, Thailand, and Sri Lanka have already expressed their interests in this fighter. Once the fighter is fitted with the Chinese indigenous engine, it can be sold to any customer without restriction.