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China rushed its first advanced stealth fighter jet into service ahead of schedule last year, using stopgap engines, in the face of rising security challenges in the region, the South China Morning Post has learned.
But that means its capabilities will be severely limited, affecting its manoeuvrability and fuel efficiency as well as its stealthiness at supersonic speeds.
However, the aircraft was equipped with inferior engines designed for earlier warplanes when it first joined the air force in March last year because “critical problems” with its tailor-made WS-15 engine, exposed by an accident in 2015, had not been fixed, two independent military sources told the Post.
“The WS-15 engine designed for the J-20 exploded during a ground running test in 2015,” one source said, adding that no one was injured in the accident.
“The explosion indicated the WS-15 is not reliable, and so far there is no fundamental solution to overcome such a problem … that’s why the J-20 is using WS-10B engines now.”
The WS-10B is a modified version of the WS-10 Taihang engine, which was designed for the country’s fourth-generation J-10 and J-11 fighters.
The explosion was confirmed by another source close to the military, who said the reasons it happened were complicated, with one being the quality control of its single-crystal turbine blades, the key component for such a powerful turbofan engine.
The Chinese, otoh, always struggle when it comes to engineering new ideas and solutions, but they have the money and manufacturing ability to crank out just about anything they can get their hands on the plans for.
originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: GrumpyBollocks
As far as engines go, we're on the verge of making several advances that will put us even farther ahead, and will be difficult to go from where they are, to where we're about to be without the intermediate steps.