China near Jet Engine breakthrough .

Discussion in 'Indian Air Force' started by Zebra, Jul 1, 2011.

  1. Zebra

    Zebra Senior Member Senior Member

    Mar 18, 2011
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    China Nears Jet Engine Breakthrough: Report

    Published: 30 Jun 2011 16:06

    In a paper released earlier this week, analysts at China Signpost argue that the Chinese are on the verge of making a breakthrough in jet engine technology, traditionally one of that nation's weak points in developing modern fighters.

    "We estimate that based on current knowledge and assuming no major setbacks or loss of mission focus, China will need 2-3 years before it achieves comprehensive capabilities commensurate with the aggregate inputs in the jet engine sector," wrote authors Andrew Erickson, an associate professor at the U.S. Naval War College, and Gabe Collins, a commodity and security specialist focused on China and Russia.

    China Signpost is a newly created, U.S.-based online think tank that specializes in China.

    Collins said via email that the Chinese are close to matching the performance of the F-15C's Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-100 engine.

    "They are really close on the PW-100-level engine technology," Collins said. "But the devil is in the details, and until the Chinese aerospace industry masters milspec quality control processes, it will be very hard to produce enough consistently good engines to truly reduce China's dependence on the Russians for high-performance tactical aircraft jet engines."

    The major weak points of the Chinese aircraft engine industry are in building turbine blades and standardizing processes, Collins said.

    "Standardization and integration may be the one area in which the costs of China's ad hoc, eclectic approach to strategic technology development truly manifest themselves," he said.

    It will take the Chinese five to 10 years to develop an engine that could power a fifth-generation stealth fighter jet comparable to the U.S. military's F-22 Raptor or F-35 Lightning II, Collins said.

    "The existence of the WS-15 program suggests that attaining the capability to manufacture an indigenous F119-class engine [which powers the F-22] to power the J-20 is a high priority," he said.

    The J-20 is a new stealth fighter under development in China.

    It will probably take a lot longer than five to 10 years before China can build fighter engines comparable to modern U.S. engines, said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst at the Teal Group, Fairfax, Va.,

    "They're a very long way from an F119/F135/F136 level of technology," Aboulafia said. "They'd have to make huge strides in materials, design and manufacturing. And by the time they got there, the West will have made major strides, too."

    That being said, the Chinese have made major strides in advancing their engine technology, he said.

    "The Chinese are making aero engine improvements, and could get to a reasonable level of autonomy in five-10 years. That means copying Western or Russian capabilities from the 1980s," Aboulafia said.

    If the Chinese are able to develop and build an engine similar in performance to Pratt & Whitney's F100, they could still build a formidable fleet of warplanes, he said.

    "An F100 level of capability can make a truly indigenous fighter a reality, and they'd pose a threat in sheer numbers alone," Aboulafia said.

    Loren Thompson, an analyst at the Lexington Institute, Arlington, Va., disagreed, saying that the Chinese could develop a fighter engine comparable to the Raptor's F119 far sooner than Western analysts expect.

    "U.S. academics and intelligence analysts have consistently underestimated the rate of Chinese progress both economically and technologically," he said.

    The Chinese, Thompson said, have developed economically much more quickly than anyone expected, and one should not expect any less from their technological development.

    Further, he said, China's progress is aided by technology gleaned both legally and illegally from abroad.

    Thompson also dismissed suggestions that Chinese society is less innovative than Western ones.

    Industrializing countries typically don't spend a lot on research and development until they have reached a more competitive position, he said. "There is no reason for China to invest in research and development when they can steal it at a fraction of the cost."

    Aboulafia said that it is true that China has developed much faster than most expected in both the economic and technological realms, but aviation is an exception to that general trend.

    "We have a history of underestimating China's economy and parts of its military, but of overestimating its aviation capabilities," he said. "One glance at their commercial jetliner industry proves that."

  3. agentperry

    agentperry Senior Member Senior Member

    Oct 24, 2010
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    their order for 123 al-31n engines from russians, for arming their j-10s shows that they are still far away from some good next-gen engine
  4. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

    Dec 17, 2009
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    Isn't this a repost of old news, which is no news at all.

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