China Testing Large Bypass Ratio Turbofan for Stealth Strategic Bomber

Photo celebrates test flight of WS20

The above photo was taken and posted by AVIC Chengdu Engine Corporation to celebrate the successful first test flight of its new powerful aircraft engine without revealing what engine it is. However, the airliner on the background reveals that it is a powerful engine for a large airliner.

According to the company’s website, the celebration was held on December 6, 2014. The company regards the success as a milestone in China’s aircraft engine development.

WS20 tested on an Il-76
WS20 tested on an Il-76 2

The above two photos posted by Chinese military fans on the Internet respectively on December 6, 2014 and March 13, 2015 tell us what engine it is as the engine is tested on an Il-76 large transport aircraft.

Analysts believe that the engine is a WS-20 large bypass ratio turbofan that can be used in China’s Y-20 large transport, double-engine medium transport, large airliner, large anti-submarine aircraft, and especially the stealth strategic bomber China is developing. They expect that the engine will be ready for use in 5 to 7 years.

Source: “Comparison between Chinese and Russian large bypass ratio engines” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


5 Comments on “China Testing Large Bypass Ratio Turbofan for Stealth Strategic Bomber”

  1. No21 says:

    I sincerely hope that China could not only just get a good engine from this test but also get a good foundation for excellent jet engines and advancement in aero industry. Just getting a good engine at a time is not enough but a strong foundation for more excellent future jet engines is worth far more than just an engine, you could have even more. Still Good luck china!


    • Steve says:

      China has indeed established a very strong foundation in turbofan jet engines. China has produced at least 490 sets of WS10A engines for J10s, WS15 engines has already made a great breakthrough for J20 stealth fighter, this WS20 has a power output of 14 tons more powerful than the Russian D30KP, which has only 10.5 tons and making great progress in WS18A with 12 ton thrust which maybe a candidate for Y20 and H6K. China is further refining the WS13 plus a host of naval engines. By 2020 China should be self dependent in most areas of it’s major research and development.


      • No21 says:

        Perhaps I should elaborate more. It is more than just “breakthroughs” and make no mistake I support China but there is still much to be done

        it is not just the breakthroughs or production figures that makes up the foundation, it is the actual experience of the engines that matters. China has only in recent years began to produce domestic engines but Russia, the EU and the US had been producing it for many years and accumulated many experiences in engines. Experiences will iron out the faults of the engines because no matter how good the engine is on paper it will be useless if it performs badly in actual usage. That usage is not just flying but also uses in combat (combat drills is okay but if it is simulated then it is not good enough because during battle the situation changes every second.

        I don’t really like the US for its attitude, but there are somethings we should be aware of that the US had done well. The engine that is used on the F-15 takes 30 years to be as stable as today and its experiences provided reference for future engine developments such as the ones on the F-22, especially the metallurgy used on American engines providing huge amount of thrust to weigh ratio while allowing the fighter to be less aerodynamic as the Russian ones. On the other Hand, the WS15 is still experimental and not used and proven in real battle. You can make very good engines on paper but it is only in real life situation that the flaws of the engine will reveal and force you to change it. China still have some way to go and if it wanted its fighter to exceed US ones it must continue to iron out the faults. As China is relatively new in producing fighter engines, its experience and foundation will need considerable amount of time to do so. This extend to all engines not just fighter jet engines.

        Make no mistake I support China but engine development is the area I will be more skpetical of as there is so far no actual news of Chinese aircraft with domestic engines performing as well as its foreign counterparts


        • Joseph says:

          The US has serious attitude problem, especially about turbofan engines because they are unable to build effective and reliable engines. While it may be true that the US may compensate this weaknes better thrusts, they do not usually last long, and the costs for parts and maintenance are enormous and unsustainable. In Indonesia, we had F-16s with Whitney Pratt engines, and older F-5s with Roll-Royce engines. While the outdated F-5s are still operational, the F-16s are basically write-offs. The part embargo has made the squadron cannibalized, leaving only one and two fly-worthy. Other countries are not better. Pakistan F-16s are practically defunct. They may be good weapon to win short wars, but really lousy weapon for defense investment. Even in the US, there are hardly any old F-16 s and F-15s, which indicates they are not good platforms. Even the F-22s are a glorified failure, engines that are lethal to its pilot cannot be defined as a success. But with the failure to develop true stealth engine for F-35, the F-22s are put on media show, glorifying its superiority while suppressing its shortcomings. On the contrary of Western reportings, China has been making engines for decades. Despite any smearings of bad engines, copied engines among other things, China had been able to create squadrons that the US would not take lightly. The challenge is to develop effective engines that are reliable and sustainable to meet new growing requirements. It is not at all about attempting something new that is alien to them before, merely improving existing technology to a new level. Their successes would certainly make the US nervous, given the US inability to advance to new level or their own.


        • Steve says:

          We are on the same page. China do have a strong reliable research and development doctrine in various platforms of aircraft, naval, military and spacecraft (rocket) engine technology. Any technical break through is an experience or doctrine in solving problems to further enhance China’s aviation technology. By 2020 or within a decade China will be self dependent.

          As you are aware, recently, the US has problems with lack of advanced fighter jets and decided to renew production of F-22 stealth. Unlike China, the problems facing the US are lack of human resources and how to acquire spare parts for maintenance. The F-22 requires constant maintenance after a few hours flight. The F-22 is now regarded as old technology and cannot be fitted with new avionics and if the US were to redesign the F22 in order to accommodate new avionics, the financial outlay would run into the billions. China is definitely steaming ahead in all facets of military doctrine in research and development.