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Air Platforms

Image suggests China may be testing thrust-vectoring engine on J-10 fighter

05 January 2018

An image has emerged on Chinese online forums showing a Chengdu Aircraft Industries Company J-10 multirole fighter aircraft powered by what may be an engine featuring a thrust vector control (TVC) nozzle.An image has emerged on Chinese online forums showing what appears to be a Chengdu J-10 fighter powered by what may be an engine featuring a TVC nozzle. (Via Weibo)An image has emerged on Chinese online forums showing what appears to be a Chengdu J-10 fighter powered by what may be an engine featuring a TVC nozzle. (Via Weibo)

The grainy photograph, which first appeared on social media platform Weibo, shows the People’s Liberation Army Air Force aircraft on the ground, but subsequent commentary on social media suggests that the fighter conducted a successful test flight on 25 December.

As the image appears to show the nozzle in the zero deflection position, it remains inconclusive that it has a TVC nozzle. However, research into and development of TVC technology are thought to have been under way for around 25 years at a number of Chinese engineering universities as well as at the Shenyang Liming Aero-Engine Corporation: one of about 25 engine manufacturing subsidiaries of the Aero Engine Corporation of China (AECC).

A number of research papers on the subject have been published in China, with the Shenyang Engine Design and Research Institute – part of Aviation Industry Corporation of China – submitting a patent application in 2013 to the State Intellectual Property Office of China for a "TVC system with inherent stealth characteristics".

Henri Kenhmann, an experienced observer of Chinese military developments, also noted on his East Pendulum website that a model of an engine fitted with thrust vector control, together with full-scale actuators and ancillaries, was exhibited at the Airshow China 2016 in Zhuhai.

The technical approach appears to focus on the use of actuators to move the 'petals' that form the nozzle, similar in concept to that developed by General Electric with its Axisymmetric Vectoring Exhaust Nozzle (AVEN) and Pratt & Whitney's Pitch-Yaw Balance Beam Nozzle (PYBBN).

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