Images suggest China has begun fitting indigenous WS10 engine into J-10C fighters

by Juan Ju

China has begun fitting locally made Shenyang-Liming WS10 ‘Taihang’-series engines into its J-10 multirole fighter aircraft, images released on 2 March by state-owned broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) suggest.

A screengrab from CCTV footage released on 2 March showing a J-10C multirole fighter in PLAAF markings fitted with a Chinese-made WS10B engine. (CCTV.com)

A screengrab from CCTV footage released on 2 March showing a J-10C multirole fighter in PLAAF markings fitted with a Chinese-made WS10B engine. (CCTV.com)

The images show an apparently newly built Chengdu Aircraft Industries Company (CAIC) J-10C fighter aircraft in People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) markings fitted with what appears to a WS10B engine, rather than the Russian-made Saturn AL-31FN turbofan that normally powers these aircraft. All main-production J-10s built by 2018, about 300 aircraft, appear to be powered by the AL-31FN.

It is unclear when or where the CCTV images were taken but the pictured aircraft, which appears to be almost ready for delivery, seems to be part of the fourth production batch of J-10Cs for the PLAAF.

Meanwhile, an image allegedly taken in mid-December 2019 but only posted recently on Chinese online forums suggests that the fifth batch of J-10C fighters is currently undergoing testing. The blurry photograph shows a J-10C painted in yellow primer and bearing what appears to be serial number 502 during a test flight at CAIC’s production facility in Chengdu Huangtianba.

Usually J-10s produced at CAIC display a shortened version of their four-digit construction number as a three-digit number on aircraft’s air intakes. Spotting these numbers is quite rare, since they are commonly erased or censored by photographers. It is thought that the first digit denotes the production batch, with the other two digits indicating the aircraft’s individual number within that batch.

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China has begun fitting locally made Shenyang-Liming WS10 ‘Taihang’-series engines into its J-10 mul...

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