The J-20 fighter is gradually moving away from Russia’s ‘propulsion dependence’
BEIJING, (BM) – This summer, China is launching a new fifth-generation fighter, the J-20B. It is made on the basis of the already well-known J-20, however, according to The Drive magazine, it will not be equipped with Russian AL-31F engines, but an improved version of the Chinese WS-10, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.
Thus, Beijing, armed with American technologies, is gradually moving away from its “propulsion dependence” on Russia, and is even taking the lead in fifth-generation fighters. The J-20 has become something of a test aircraft, and the J-20B in China may begin to produce really massively.
Russia has yet to release the first series of Su-57s, which have yet to be tested in combat units. China has already passed this stage.
Chinese pilots have already demonstrated the WS-10B-3 with a controlled thrust vector in a J-10B fighter at the Zhuhai air show in 2018. In terms of its maneuverability, the aircraft was practically not inferior to the Russian Su-35S and F-22.
From The Drive’s point of view, thrust vectoring engines on a fifth-generation fighter are a controversial issue as they add weight to the aircraft. The F-22, like the F-35, is not equipped with such. However, the AL-41F1, which are now on the Su-57, have a controlled thrust vector. If the engines are powerful, they will make a maneuverable and heavy fighter, which, for example, certainly is the Su-30SM.
It is assumed that the Chinese have also managed to improve the efficiency of the new engine and the range of the fighter.
For the first time, a Chinese engine was seen on the J-20A with serial number 2021. It was distinguished by gear injectors that allowed to reduce the ESR. Moreover, they have become more powerful. Then, in November last year, it became known about the upcoming release of the J-20B.
The first batch will consist of six vehicles. The first fighters are planned to be produced by the end of this year. At the same time, China will continue to produce J-20A with WS-10C engines to equip other squadrons. In the future, China’s fifth generation fighters will receive even more powerful WS-15s. And the plane itself will be made even less visible to radars.
Just two months ago, China wanted to buy a Russian engine codenamed Product 30
As BulgarianMilitary.com reported in late May this year China was interested to acquire a batch of Product 30 aircraft engines, which are being developed specifically for the Su-57 fighter.
The latest Su-57 is the most advanced Russian fighter, whose strengths include its excellent maneuverability. At the moment, AL-41F1 power units are used on these aircraft, but in the future they will be replaced by completely new engines, known in the media under the code name Product 30.
China wants to have this unique motor at its disposal, Moscow will receive an offer to purchase it right after the start of its mass production.
“While maintaining high performance and traction Product 30 boasts low fuel consumption, this parameter is 30% lower than that of its predecessors,” noted Sohu authors.
However, not only its low fuel consumption attracts the new Russian engine of the Chinese military. The nozzle of the power unit can be deflected at a sufficiently large angle, which allows for impressive maneuverability for the aircraft. During air combat, this factor can be crucial.
Beijing intends to install these engines on J-20 fighters, which are currently equipped with other engines from the Russian Federation – AL-31FN. China will make every effort to agree with the Russian Federation on the supply of Product 30, an extremely tempting offer will be made to Moscow.
“China is far behind Russia in engine building, a universally recognized fact. The introduction of foreign engines is the most optimal step for China in this situation,” the experts concluded.
Chinese experts believe that their J-20 is better than the Russian Su-57
According to Chinese news agencies, a fifth-generation Russian fighter is seriously inferior to a Chinese combat aircraft in high-altitude combat.
It is reported that the Russian combat aircraft was never able to “keep up” with the Chinese Chengdu J-20 in a battle at high altitude, having lost almost twice as much in this parameter.
“Russia is a world leader in the field of engine building, and their engines are better than in the United States of America. A distinctive feature of the Russian Su-35 fighter is its ability to climb. However, this was not fully demonstrated on the Su-57. Later, data verified by a specialist showed that the maximum elevation of the Su-57 was 20,000 meters” said the Sohu publication.
China is the latest of the three countries that began to create a fifth generation fighter, but the technologies and equipment used are at the forefront in the world, especially when climbing the J-20, it has shown good results and the maximum lift height has actually reached 35,000 m. Since the J-20 was developed relatively late, it benefited from the ability to use more modern equipment and therefore was ahead of other fighters,” the Sohu also noted.
Specialists, by the way, questioned the arguments of the Sohu journalists, emphasizing that for this type of fighter, a climb to a height of more than 20 kilometers is not at all advisable.
“The Chinese J-20 is not a fighter-interceptor at all, and therefore flying at an altitude of 35 kilometers is not an indicator to brag about. The PRC does not have weapons for fifth-generation fighters that would give them an advantage when fighting at such heights, however, this property can allow China to bypass some air defense equipment, thereby climbing directly into the enemy’s rear,” the specialist notes.
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