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Chinese WS-15 engine prepared for mass production

Initial production units of China's fifth-generation fighter aircraft, the CAC J-20, are powered by the Russian-origin Saturn AL-31FN engines. However, from 2022, reports indicated that the Shenyang WS-10 Taihang turbofan engine is also being installed in the J-20s as an interim powerplant. The WS-15 is intended to replace both of these engines in the J-20. (Janes)

An official of China's Aero Engine Corporation of China (AECC) has said that the country's Shenyang WS-15 engine for fighter aircraft is ready for mass production.

Speaking during the Seventh China Aviation Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition (CAIEC) in March, Zhang Yong, a project director of AECC's Beijing Institute of Aeronautical Materials, said that from “a technical point of view” the institute has “tackled all bottlenecks” associated with the production of the WS-15 engine.

“The mass production of WS-10 and WS-15 [engines] delivery has been achieved. Materials screening and verifications have been finalised,” Zhang said.

The CAIEC was held from 16 to 17 March, according to China Central Television (CCTV), the Chinese state-owned broadcaster.

Zhang said that the streamlining of the supply chain has allowed AECC to manufacture several high-temperature components for the WS-15. These include superalloy disc parts, ring parts, fasteners, and other components.

The engine's potential mass production will allow China to improve the flight capabilities of several advanced fighter aircraft. In March 2022, CCTV said that the engine is being developed for “fifth-generation heavy and medium fighter jets”. One very likely beneficiary is China's fifth-generation Chengdu Aerospace Corporation (CAC) J-20 stealth fighter.

The early production units of the J-20 are powered by the Russian-origin Saturn AL-31FN two-shaft augmented turbofan engine. Information from China in 2022 suggests that this powerplant was supplanted by the interim Shenyang WS-10 Taihang two-shaft turbofan engine.

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