PLA’s J-10C fighter makes training debut with domestically made engine: reports

A J-10C fighter jet equipped with a domestically developed WS-10 Taihang engine reportedly made its first public appearance in a live-fire training session after entering service with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force.

This could be an indication that the engine is now technically stable, reliable and mature, analysts said on Thursday.

A PLA Air Force regiment operating at an undisclosed training base recently organized several warplanes in a series of live-fire practices with multiple types of weapons including rockets and guns on ground targets, China National Radio reported this week.

One of the photos attached to the report showed a J-10C fighter jet seemingly equipped with a domestically developed Taihang engine, instead of previously used Russian-made AL-31, eastday.com, a Shanghai-based news website, reported on Wednesday.

This is the public debut of the Taihang engine-equipped J-10C since it has entered PLA Air Force service, eastday.com said.

The J-10C is an aircraft that has been produced in large batches. So if it is now using the Taihang engine, it could be an indication that this version has also been delivered to the PLA in numbers, Wang Ya’nan, chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Thursday.

In March 2020, a J-10C with a Taihang engine was spotted in a video released by the aircraft’s developer, leading analysts to say at the time that the fighter jet was about to be commissioned.

Since the Taihang was long under development and in test use by the air force, it has now become technically stable, reliable and mature, Wang said.

Other PLA fighter jets like the J-11B and J-16 started to use Taihang engines earlier, with one of the reasons being that they are twin-engined, meaning less risk of accident, but the J-10C only uses one engine, so the engine must be reliable, according to analysts.

The original J-10C with a Russian engine made its first public appearance at a military parade in late July 2017 celebrating the 90th founding anniversary of the PLA, and started combat alert missions in April 2018, thepaper.cn reported at the time.

For the next step, China is expected to develop more advanced engines with larger thrust-to-weight ratios, longer service life, more efficient maintenance standards and intelligent control technologies to fit the needs of new-generation aircraft, Wang said.

China’s most advanced stealth fighter jet, the J-20, is expected to be upgraded with 2D thrust vectoring nozzles for its engines, said Li Gang, the pilot of the J-20’s first flight, when asked about his expectations on the future development of the J-20’s thrust vector control capability in an interview with Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV in April.

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