Top new turbofan engine to power China's carrier-based stealth fighters: specialist

Global Times
Chen Zhuo
2019-04-18 09:17:27

A Chinese FC-31 fighter jet performs at the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province, on November 12, 2014. Photo: Cui Meng/GT

The young members of a team of Chinese aero engine designers will be given an award for successfully designing and prototype testing of a new top-class turbofan engine that will help Chinese fighter jets take on their advanced foreign counterparts.

Experts said on Wednesday the new engine is likely to be installed on China's new carrier-based stealth fighter jets.

With 124 members who are 35 years old or younger, the 193-person development team at the Gas Turbine Research Institute under the state-owned Aero Engine Corporation of China will receive a provincial award during China's Youth Day on May 4, according to a statement released by the government of Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province, on its WeChat account on Monday.

Without disclosing the designation of the engine, the statement said it is a piece of military equipment that will rival advanced foreign fighter jets and represents China's highest technical level in aero engines. It is one of several major aero engine projects of the country, the statement said.

It took the development team only a year to design the engine, and just six months to finish testing the first prototype, and the manufacturing cycle has been reduced by two thirds, the statement said.

With the new engine, China's future advanced fighter jets will finally solve the "heart problem," Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military analyst, told the Global Times on Wednesday. "This is great, great news," he said. The aero engine is often dubbed "heart of aircraft" as it provides the power the aircraft needs.

Military observers said China has made astounding progress in the development of advanced military aircraft, highlighted by the J-20 stealth fighter jet. The industry, however, has been hampered by domestically made engines that previously had sub-optimal thrust and life span.

Advanced turbofan engines are difficult to develop, especially the manufacturing of fan blades, which must be built to resist very high temperatures and pressure, Wei noted.

The upcoming award is an indication that China has made breakthroughs not only in designing, but also manufacturing, Wei said.

Despite the fast pace of development, Wei said the new engine still needs a considerable amount of testing under different situations, before it is confirmed reliable and enters mass production.

This turbofan engine is likely to be used on China's stealth fighter jets in the future, Weihutang, a column affiliated with China Central Television, reported on Tuesday.

Wei said the engine could be related to China's medium-sized twin-engine stealth aircraft FC-31, which could become China's next generation aircraft carrier-based fighter jet.

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