China's latest fighter jets will be powered by domestically made engines by 2022, experts said, as a television crew was given a glimpse of a J-11B fighter's radar system and engine.
"More Chinese fighting jets, including the J-10, J11, J-20 and J-31, will be powered by homegrown engines. China's new generation of military jets will all be powered by domestically-made engines within five years," Xu Guangyu, a senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times.
The J-11B is powered by two domestic-made engines, a China Central Television (CCTV) reporter said, who gained access to a secret warehouse of the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, a major fighter jet producer located in Northeast China's Shenyang Province. CCTV aired a report on the jet on Tuesday.
"The domestically made engine WS-10C on the J-11B is quite competitive to the previous Russian-made AL31 engine," Xu Yongling, an air force expert at the Chinese Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics (CSAA), told the Global Times.
Newly produced J-11B jets will be powered by the WS-10C, but engines on the current 120 J-11Bs won't be totally replaced due to the high cost, Xu Yongling said.
"China still lags behind in turbofan engines, especially engines that feature domestic single-crystal turbine blades made from metal rhenium," Xu Guangyu explained.
Most of the technology of single-crystal turbine blades is in the hands of State companies, Wang Yanan, chief editor of the Aerospace Knowledge magazine, previously told the Global Times. The Sichuan Province-based Chengdu Aerospace Superalloy Technology Company became China's first company to mass produce single-crystal turbine blades, CCTV had earlier reported.
The participation of private firms in the aviation industry would make production more efficient, Wang said.
Xu Youngling said the military aircraft engine industry is monopolized by State-owned companies, and will still take some time before more private companies enter this high-end industry.
"The domestic engines will be gradually tested on more fighters, Xu Guangyu stressed, adding that it would be strategically beneficial to the army since most fighter jets are powered by Western-made engines.