With the delay of the Zhuhai Airshow from November 2020 to 2021, data and analytics company Globaldata expects that the new date will allow China’s Chengdu J-20 jet fighter to be displayed with modernised Shenyang WS-10C engines.
The WS-10C would replace the original Russian NPO Saturn AL-31F engines. According to Harry Boneham, associate analyst at GlobalData, “The arrival of these indigenously developed engines can be regarded as a watershed moment for the development of China’s defence industry.”
Mr Boneham notes that China has had an historical strategic weakness through its need to import key components for high technology systems such as high performance fighter engines. However, the WS-10C is likely to be an interim engine which will be replaced by the Xian WS-15. Although this engine can trace its first testing back to 2005, it has only recently started mass production. The WS-15 will have a better thrust-to-weight ration than the WS-10C.
GlobalData’s report entitled China’s Defence Budget Analysis (FY 2020), Competitive Landscape and Forecasts, states that “engines accounted for a significant portion of Chinese defence imports between 2015-2019. “During the period, engines were the second largest category for imports after aircraft. Aircraft and engine imports stood at 40 percent and 27 percent respectively.