China ‘nearing mass production’ of J-20 stealth fighter after engine problems ironed out

Improved power train will give Chinese jet ability to fly undetected at supersonic speeds, on par with United States’ F-35

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 September, 2018, 3:01am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 September, 2018, 9:20am
Minnie Chan

A new and improved engine designed to make China’s J-20 stealth fighter a world-class combat jet should be ready for mass production by the end of the year, military sources have said.

The WS-15 engine features cutting-edge single-crystal turbine blades and has been in development for several years, but Chinese technicians have struggled to get it into mass production.

However, many of the problems – which largely related to blades overheating at top speeds – have been ironed out in ground tests and trial flights, putting the goal of a consistently high quality product in sight, sources told the South China Morning Post.

Beijing is keen to have a stealth aircraft capable of competing with the best in the world as tensions rise in the Asia-Pacific and the United States ramps up deployment of its F-22 and F-35 fighters in the region.

“The WS-15 is expected to be ready for widespread installation in the J-20s by the end of this year,” one of the sources said.

Although some “minor problems” remained, these should be resolved once the engine had been more “extensively run in the aircraft”, the source said.

Beijing-based military expert Zhou Chenming said that China expected the US to deploy between 200 and 300 F-35s – its most advanced stealth fighter – in the Asia-Pacific by 2025, which meant “China needs a similar number of J-20s, or at least 200”.

Twelve F-35s arrived at the US Air Force’s Kadena Air Base in Japan in November, while South Korea said it planned to take delivery of 40 of the fighters this year.

A second military source said that the problems with the WS-15 needed to be resolved before large numbers of the J-20 could be manufactured.

“China currently has about 20 J-20s, which is far from enough,” the source said. “[Having] a home-grown engine is a must for the J-20 to enter mass production, as no other country would be prepared to give China such cutting-edge technology.”

The sources’ claims add weight to an April report by state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) that said Chengdu Aerospace Corporation, which manufactures the J-20, was set to open a fourth production line for the stealth fighter in 2019.

And last month CCTV reported that China’s air force had stepped up its training programme for J-20 pilots.

The People’s Liberation Army said that the J-20 entered combat service on February 9 and had been working alongside other fourth-generation aircraft, such as the J-16 and J-10 fighters and the H-6K strategic bomber. In May it took part in island encirclement drills around Taiwan.

The Post reported in February that the J-20 at that time was fitted with a “stopgap” engine.

One of the military sources said the public could get its first glimpse of the new stealth fighter, complete with its upgraded engine, at the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition later in the year.

The event, which is held every two years, is set to run from November 5 to 11, in Zhuhai, southern China’s Guangdong province.

Source: SCMP “China ‘nearing mass production’ of J-20 stealth fighter after engine problems ironed out”

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


CCTV Footage Shows J-20’s Super Maneuverability’s report “Frantic flights! Marveling big maneuvering move of a pair of J-20’s” yesterday shows a CCTV footage on J-20’s marveling performance.

Source: “Frantic flights! Marveling big maneuvering move of a pair of J-20’s” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report. The video footage on J-20s can be viewed at

Powerful Dragon v Raptor: how China’s J-20 stealth fighters compare with America’s F-22s

China’s most advanced jet is one of the few fifth-generation fighters in active service. Here’s how it compares to its closest US counterpart

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 July, 2018, 9:29pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 July, 2018, 9:29pm

China’s new J-20, officially named Weilong or powerful dragon, is one of the world’s most advanced fighter jets and the country’s answer to the American F-22 Raptor.

In mid July the PLA Airforce released a video of a nighttime training exercise involving the stealth fighter as a demonstration of its combat readiness.

The Chinese warplane was developed by the Chengdu Aerospace corporation, which began testing them in 2011 before the first planes entered service in March 2017.

So far a few dozen J-20s have been produced for the PLA although the manufacturer is continuing to build more.

The F-22 Raptor was developed by Lockheed Martin for the exclusive use of the US Air Force. Exports even to America’s closest allies are banned to protect its stealth technology.

Its maiden flight was in September 1997 and it entered service in December 2005. In 2011 production was terminated because of the high costs involved and lack – at the time – of any aircraft that could challenge its dominance.
America is planning to upgrade the fighter in future but for now it remains, along with the Weilong, one of the most advanced fifth generation fighters in the world.

Both single-seat fighters have stealth capabilities, which means they are designed to avoid detection by radar. Here is how the two compare.
Design characteristics

The J-20 and F-22 are a similar size. The J-20 is 20.3 metres (66.6ft) long and has a 12.9 metre wingspan compared with the F-22’s 19m length and 13.6m wingspan.
Made of advance alloy materials, they also have similar empty weight of around 19,000kg.

The J-20’s loaded weight is slightly heavier, of around 32,000kg compared with the F-22’s 29,000kg, however the American fighter can take off with a maximum weight of 38,000kg, 2,000kg more than the J-20.

Both planes have a ceiling of 20km and a maximum speed of over Mach 2 (2,470km per hour) – faster than the speed of sound. The F-22 has a comparatively shorter range – with a combat radius of 800km, while the J-20’s large internal fuel tank can sustain a longer combat radius of 1,100km.

The F-22 is powered by afterburning turbofan F119-PW-100 engines, which enable it to super cruise at a speed of Mach 1.82. The engines have vectoring nozzles which enable it to perform agile manoeuvres event at supersonic speeds.

However, the engine is the J-20’s weakest link. Plans for China to develop its own advanced turbofan engines fell behind schedule. This meant the manufacturers had to rely on inferior engines – either the Chinese WS-10B or Russian-made AL-31FM2/3 – which severely affects its manoeuvrability and stealth capacity at supersonic speeds.

However, the new WS-15 engine, which is expected to be available next year, will go a long way to addressing this problem.

The J-20’s frontal and side stealth capacities are believed to be excellent. But it is thought to be more vulnerable to radar from the rear compared with the F-22.

To maintain stealth, both fighters carry their weapons in internal bays. The J-20 can carry up to six air-to-air missiles, fewer than the F-22. But thanks to larger space in each bay, the J-20 can carry longer range missiles and the LS-6 precision-guided bomb.

So far it has not been confirmed to have any guns, although some analysts believe it would be able to carry extended guns.

China’s J-20 stealth fighter jet lines up for combat duty, boosting firepower in the sky
The F-22 can hold up to eight short or medium-range air-to-air or air-to-ground missiles. It also has an M61 Vulcan gun in addition to four under-wing drop tank points, which allow it to carry extra fuel or missile launchers.

Both aircraft possess highly integrated avionics and sensor equipment, featuring a low-observable, active electronically scanned array (AESA) that can track multiple targets in any weather.

It was reported by Shenzhen TV that the J-20’s Type AESA radar system is “totally similar” to the F-22’s AN/APG-77 system.

The F-22 production was axed because of its high cost – US$62 billion for the whole project, which equates to US$339 million per aircraft.

The J-20’s research and development cost was estimated to be more than 30 billion yuan (US$4.4 billion), with a cost per aircraft of US$100-110 million.

Source: SCMP “Powerful Dragon v Raptor: how China’s J-20 stealth fighters compare with America’s F-22s”

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

China Developing New Fighter Jet for Aircraft Carrier to Replace J-15 says in its report yesterday that according to various foreign media’s analyses, China is developing a new carrier-based fighter jet to replace J-15 that the Liaoning uses.

According to SCMP’s report on July 5 Lieutenant General Zhang Honghe, deputy head of the PLA Air Force, told SCMP that China is developing a “new carrier-based fighter to replace the J-15” but no details have been given.

Chinese military expert Li Jie believes that FC-31, the second type of stealth fighter jet China is developing, is the right stealth fighter jet to replace J-15. It is smaller and lighter with weapons hidden inside.

However, there have always been various different opinions. Some speculate that a carrier-based version of J-20 will be developed for China’s future fleets of aircraft carrier. J-20 is more powerful than FC-31 (J-31) to deal with US F-35 and F-22. It will enable China’s carrier fleets to be a real blue sea navy.

Source: “China developing new type of carrier-based fighter jet? Expert: J-31 will hopefully replace J-15” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese, full text of which can be viewed at

Development of J-20 Attains 4 Goals, Some Functions Surpass F22

China Youth Daily says in its article today that as a forth-generation fighter jet, J-20 has super stealth, supersonic cruise, super maneuverability and super information capabilities in its report “Research and development of J-20 has attained four major goals: Some of its functions surpass F22” today.

From the point of view of the establishment of an air battle system, the development of J-20 has started China’s progress of upgrading the fighter jets of Chinese air force with a new generation, enhanced China’s integrated attack and defense capabilities, enabled China to break enemy’s air defense with its J-20s for other fighter jets to attack enemy’s ground and surface targets and established combined air and ground combat system.

The report says that compared with single-engine light stealth fighter jet such as F35A, China’s heavy double-engine J-20 is obviously superior in air combats as it can carry much heavier ammunition.

Previously I believe J-20 is merely developed for dominance of the air for China’s national defense, but the report says J-20 will play the role to break enemy’s air defense to enable other fighter jets to attack ground and surface targets.

J-20 is equipped with a powerful advanced multi-function active phase array radar with the capability of a medium-sized AEW&C aircraft. In a formation with J-10, J-11, J-16, Su-30 and other upgraded third-generation fighter jets, it may provide long-distance early warning, command and guidance.

For ground air defense, J-20 will help them develop the capabilities to fight stealth fighters.

As it is developed later than F22, the report says it has better aviation electronic, fire control and combat command systems than F22.

Therefore, according to its chief designer Yang Wei, China has achieved four major goals through the development of J-20: building a new generation of warplanes, leading technological development, establishing a creative research and development system and developing an excellent team of scientists and engineers.

Source: China Youth Daily “Research and development of J-20 has attained four major goals: Some of its functions surpass F22” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)

Footage of J-20 in Joint Combat Training

J-20s Dominate Sky for Precise Hits of Remote Targets by J-16s, J-10Cs

CCTV says in its report “Strongest Formation! Drill of Breaking Defense and Strikes by Fleet of J-20s, J-16s and J-10Cs” that a new fighter jet has to be tested and to develop its capabilities in military drill simulating real warfare.

Recently PLA air force has conducted busy drills of mixed formation of J-20s, J-16s and J-10Cs for air dominance and breaking enemy air defense to conduct long-range attacks at ground targets.

Through the drills, J-20s have achieved real combat capabilities of air dominance to enable J-16s and J-10Cs to conduct long-range precise attack at ground targes.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on CCTV’s report, Chinese full text of which with quite a few photos can be viewed at