Russia’s top jet engine-maker has signed an agreement to supply over 100 high powered engines for China’s new fleet of fighter jets, but Beijing is yet to ratify the deal as it is apparently miffed by some stiff conditionalties of the deal, a media report said.
“The contract will involve 140 to 150 engines, but it has not been confirmed by authorities in Beijing,” Alexander A Drozhzhin, the head of press for SALUT, a top Russian company that manufactures engines for the Su-27 aircraft, regarded as the fourth generation fighter aircraft was quoted as saying by China’s state-run Global Times.
According to US media reports, the Russian state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport (ROE), announced in July a sale of 123 SALUT-made AL-31FN turbofan engines to China for USD 500 million.
The engine is a variant of that used in the Su-27 and Su-30MKK/MK2 fighter jets and is designed to be used on China’s single-engine J-10 fighter jet, Drozhzhin said.
The reported deal involves the third series of the AL-31FN, which have a maximum thrust of 12,500 kilogrammes and 2,000-hour service life.
The AL-31FNs currently used on China’s J-10s have 11,700-kilogramme thrust and 1,500-hour service life, he said.
China’s air force development made headlines earlier this year after news about the prototype J-20 stealth plane emerged. However, aircraft engine design and manufacture have been lagging behind, the newspaper said.
China, which has not got much of technological access to both US and EU aviation technology due to restrictions, is developing a range of new planes including the stealth version, but the engines for the most of these planes were still being imported from
Russia and Ukraine, mostly case-by -case.
According to defence analysts, the Chinese, who are masters of reverse engineering technology, were bogged down with Russian and Ukraine insistence they should be used only planes and not for reproduction.
It is the same case with the JF-17, being jointly produced by China and Pakistan as the engines for it were being sourced from Russia.
Pakistan plans to get 250 JF-17 in the next few years.
About 50 planes were produced last year and China has assured handing over another 50 this year.
Since 2009, China used Taihang engines, developed and produced by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), have been fitted to the double engine J-11 fighter jets, its J-15 carrier-based variant and an upgraded version of the J-10 single engine fighter.
Lin Zuoming, President AVIC said it had taken 20 years to develop the Taihang, a Chinese engine and that work on the engine was progressing very well.