China takes major milestone in military turbojets

After 35 years of efforts, the Chinese aeronautical industry has finally succeeded in developing a sufficiently reliable and efficient version of its WS-10 turbojet to equip it with a single-engine mass-produced combat aircraft. Indeed, a cliché leaked on Chinese social networks recently shows a single-engine J-10C fighter of the Air Force of the People's Liberation Army (FAAPL) equipped with the WS-10B version of this engine, confirming that the latter has now reached the required criteria, particularly in terms of reliability and performance, to equip this type of aircraft. So far, even though lChinese J-11, J-15 and J-16 twin-engine fighters had already started their conversion to the WS-10, the J-10 of the FAAPL they remained equipped with the Saturn AL-31 engine of Russian invoice, which revealed a certain lack of confidence on the part of the Chinese military vis-à-vis the Chinese reactor.

Originally derived from the reverse engineering of two Franco-American CFM56II engines acquired in the early 80s, the development of the WS-10 was long and tedious. The objective announced by the Chinese authorities was to design a turbojet engine offering performance comparable to that of the Russian AL-31 engine, which is used in particular on the Su-27, Su-30 and Su-35. But for a long time, Chinese engineers faced several difficulties, whether in terms of engine life which still peaked in 2010 at 30 hours of use, where the AL-31 reached 400 hours and the M88 which propels the Rafale the 3000 hours; in terms of power delivered by developing 120 kN instead of the expected 130; as well as in terms of regulation, ie the time required for the engine to vary its speed and deliver the expected power. However, if these problems turned out to be prohibitive for a single-engine aircraft like the J-10 or the JF17, the engine was deemed sufficiently satisfactory to equip the heavy fighters J-11B, a licensed version of the Su-27SK, from 2011.

A test J10B was observed with the WS-10G vector thrust version of the Chinese engine.

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