China’s WS-15 Turbofan for J-20 matches F119 for F-22


China is making fast progress in developing world-class aircraft engine. SCMP quotes a Chinese scientist as says in its report “China in talks for sale of jet engine technology to Germany” on January 14, “We are willing to share with industrial partners in Germany our latest hardware and technology. Industrial representatives from the two sides have finished the first round of contact.”

In addition the scientist said that the export of state-of-the-art machinery to Germany – traditionally known for its high-quality products – would improve the international image of China’s manufacturing industry.

Due to the fast technological progress, SCMP says, “state media boasted last year that its (China’s WS-15 turbofan developed for J-20) performance matched that of the Pratt & Whitney F119, the world’s most advanced jet engine in military service, which was developed in the United States for the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor stealth fighter.”

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2127796/china-talks-sale-jet-engine-technology-germany.

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No US Fighter Jet Is J-20’s Match


China’s J-20 stealth fighter jet. mil.huanqiu.com photo

At the press conference titled “China’s 10 star weapons 2017” on January 14, Chinese military expert Wang Yanan said that though very few technical details about China’s J-20 stealth fighter jet have been disclosed, judging by its large weapon bays, J-20 has much greater fire power than any of US fighter jets in service.

As F-35 is no match to J-20, US plan to surround China with F-35 stealth fighters has been frustrated. It now has to consider sales of F-22 to China’s neighbors. However, F-22 was developed more than a decade ago. It has to be greatly upgraded to include recently developed technologies such as networks-centered warfare, information and intelligence support, etc. However, if J-20 is able to coordinate with China’s satellites, AEW&C aircrafts and advanced drones, it will be a formidable weapon.

Source: mil.huanqiu.com “J-20, homegrown aircraft carrier elected as star weapons 2017: Expert explain” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


Russia Delivers 3rd Batch of 5 Su-35s to China


5 Su-35s led by an Il-76.

On December 1, a net user took the above photo of 5 Su-35s flew past Qingdao led by an Il-76 transport.

Some people ask the question why China bought the fighter jets since China has been able to make J-20 stealth and J-11B fighter jets relatively as good as Su-35.

However. Su-35 certainly have some advanced functions and performance for China to learn from such as its high maneuverability, newest phased array radar, rear-view radar to guide missile to hit targets in its back and especially its AL-41 engine.

Through reverse engineering, China can learn from Su-35 to quicken China’s development of most advanced fighter jets for its national security.

This deal shows the China has enhanced Russia’s trust in it, which has reduced Russia’s concern about China’ reverse engineering to copy its technology.

China, on the other hand, is willing to pay high price for Su-35 to enable Russia to have more funds for weapon development, which China no longer regards as a threat to China’s national security.

Such trust will enable them to ally with each other to resist US containment.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on mil.huanqiu.com’s report, full text of which in Chinese can be viewed at http://mil.huanqiu.com/observation/2017-12/11417520.html.


China Makes J-20 and C919 Engines with Rhenium Superalloy


On September 12, I reblogged Popular Science’s September-9 article “China’s J-20 stealth fighter may be getting a new engine”. According to the article, there was a new J-20 prototype no. 2021 installed with a new WS-10X engine better stealth with 14-15 ton vector thrust that enables J-20 to conduct supersonic supercruise without using fuel-thirsty afterburners.

The article speculates that China’s J-20 will mainly use homegrown engines because China is able to produce and use rhenium-nickel superalloy, but there has been no other sources to confirm that. At that time, I guess that China got Ukraine help in developing such superalloy.

In my post “Ukraine Helps China Make Rhenium Superalloy for High Tech Warplanes” on September 22, I quoted Global Times’ article “Experts clarify rumor of changes in aircraft engine cooperation: Cooperation achievements in display” on September 20 as saying, “From the manufacturing point of view, China is relatively weak in the technology of making and casting of single crystal alloys, powder metallurgy, etc. In Russian-Ukraine system, those technologies have already been applied for more than one or several decades. They have played a great boosting role in improving China’s aircraft engines.”

However, CCTV’s report on October 24 makes known that China’s Space Travel Superalloy Technology Co., Ltd. of Chengdu extracts and purifies rhenium. The Engineering Physics Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has succeeded in using rhenium superalloy to make various parts of aircraft engines, especially the single crystal turbine blades. Xu Gang, a laboratory chief of the research institute says that all the parts have been designed and produced by the institute on its own.

Zhu Junqiang, head of the research institute, showed CCTV reporter an engine for UAV and commercial airliner. He told the reporter that the engine was undergoing 150 hours of test. When it has passed the test, it will be installed on an aircraft to undergo flight tests.

J-20 is now using China’s homegrown WS-10X engines better than those imported from Russia and will use WS-15 when it has been successfully developed.

China’s C919 airliner uses imported engine now but according to Zhu China is developing its homegrown engine for C919.

The report also discloses that China is using rhenium superalloy for its satellites, rockets and spaceships.

Source: CCTV “Chinese enterprises break US monopoly in successfully making core parts of aircraft engines” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


Stealth Showdown: America’s F-22 Raptor vs China’s J-20 (Who Wins?)


Two F-22 raptors in column. National Interest’s photo

Dave Majumdar October 1, 2017

Perhaps the most compelling evidence that would point to the J-20 being optimized for the strike role is the fact that the airframe is enormous but has relatively small wings. It’s also seems to have huge weapons bays. While such a configuration works well for a fast supersonic strike aircraft, it’s not ideal for an air superiority fighter that needs be able to sustain high rates of turn.

The People’s Republic of China is likely to be the only peer level competitor to the United States over the next fifty years. While a conflict is unlikely—a Third World War is in nobody’s interests—the United States must be prepared for such an eventuality.

As with all modern conventional wars, airpower and air superiority will play a key role. For the United States, the stealthy Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor will be America’s premier weapon to ensure dominance over the skies until it is eventually replaced by whatever comes out of the U.S. Air Force’s F-X program.

The most direct Chinese analogue to the Raptor is the Chengdu J-20. How would such a jet fair against America’s best?

Not much is known about the Chinese jet—it might not even be a fighter in the traditional sense of the word. It could be a specialized aircraft that is specifically designed to attack the sinews of U.S. power projection capabilities in the Western Pacific as part of an overall Chinese anti-access/area denial strategy (A2/AD). Basically, the jet might be optimized to hit support assets like tankers, AWACS, JSTARS or even carry long-range cruise missiles to attack scattered U.S. bases and aircraft carriers in the region.

Here is what we do know about the J-20. It appears to have a stealth airframe and it liberally borrows design cues from both the Raptor and its Lockheed stable-mate, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. That’s not an accident; the Chinese very likely stole a large amount of classified F-35 data.

There are some indications that the J-20 is a primarily a strike aircraft but with a robust air-to-air capability. Like the American F-35, the newest J-20 prototypes appear to have an electro-optical targeting system mounted under the nose. That sensor could be Beijing A-Star Science and Technology’s EOTS-89 electro-optical targeting system (EOTS). A dedicated air superiority fighter wouldn’t need that kind of sensor.

There are also indications that the Chinese jet carries an active electronically scanned array radar (AESA). Allegedly, the J-20 would be fitted with a Type 1475 radar, which is supposedly being tested on a China Test Flight Establishment owned Tupolev Tu-204. However, there is no way to confirm that information because the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) isn’t really all that forthcoming about sharing information about its developmental projects. That being said, given Beijing’s interest in the Su-35—which is mostly likely driven by a desire to harvest that Flanker variant’s radar and engine technology, I have my doubts about how far along the Chinese have gotten on developing an operational AESA.

Perhaps the most compelling evidence that would point to the J-20 being optimized for the strike role is the fact that the airframe is enormous but has relatively small wings. It’s also seems to have huge weapons bays. While such a configuration works well for a fast supersonic strike aircraft, it’s not ideal for an air superiority fighter that needs be able to sustain high rates of turn.

Moreover, China hasn’t demonstrated that it has the requisite engine technology necessary to power an air superiority fighter of that size. The People’s Republic hasn’t perfected its indigenous WS-10, let alone come close to finishing development of the next-generation WS-15. In fact, China hasn’t demonstrated it can build any reliable jet engine—and that’s including designs that it stole from Russia. But a strike aircraft doesn’t need to have a spectacular thrust to weight ratio—thus the jet’s current twin Russian-built Saturn AL-31F engines might be adequate for China’s purposes.

Further, there is a strong argument to be made that short-range tactical fighters like the F-22 and F-35 are ill-suited for operations in the Western Pacific where distances are vast and bases are scarce. The same geographic constraints also apply to the Chinese. That means that jets like the F-22 and F-35 need tankers to operate over those vast distances. The most logical way for the Chinese to tackle American and allied airpower is not to confront those forces head-on but rather by removing their ability to fight. That means going after U.S. bases, tankers and communications nodes. Thus in that sense, the J-20 could be China’s means to establish air superiority if viewed through that lens. In that sense it might have the upper hand against the F-22.

Of course, this is all conjecture. Only the PLAAF knows where the J-20 fits into their order of battle, but it could prove to be a formidable foe.

Dave Majumdar is Defense Editor for The National Interest. You can follow him You on Twitter: @DaveMajumdar

Source: National Interest “Stealth Showdown: America’s F-22 Raptor vs China’s J-20 (Who Wins?)”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


New Test Flight of J-20 Prototype Powered by Homegrown Engines


Muzzles of this new prototype’s engines are obviously different from the Russian engines used on previous J-20s

There are new photos on the Internet of successful new test flight of J-20 new prototype with yellow coating. The nozzles of the prototype’s engines are different from the Russian engines on previous version of J-20. There is speculation that the new J-20 is powered by China’s homegrown Taihang engines.

Source: “Another successful test flight of Taihang version of J-20” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


Official: China Has Formally Commissioned J-20 Stealth Fighter Jet


J-20 commission ceremony. mil.huanqiu.com photo

Mil.huanqiu.com says in its report on September 28 that Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said in reply to a reporter’s question at the Ministry’s press conference that J-20 has already been formally commissioned in the military and that follow-up test flights are being carried out.

Source: mil.huanqiu.com “J-20 formally commissioned in Chinese military: Follow-up test flights are being carried out” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)