China Seeks Superalloys, Supply Chain Boost For Military Engines


China's indigenous WS-15 engine, designed for J-20 stealth fighters, is now in serial production.

Credit: Sipa US/Alamy Stock Photo

SINGAPORE—China is looking to further invest in its supply chain and wrought superalloy materials to achieve its large-scale military engine production roadmap, according to an Aero Engine Corporation of China (AECC) official. 

Speaking at China’s Aviation Investment Summit, Qiang Wei, program lead at the AECC Beijing Institute for Aeronautical Materials, said the WS-10 and WS-15 turbofan engines are now in serial production following the finalization of material verifications. 

“We have overcome all technical bottlenecks, and we need to increase and smooth the flow of the supply chain for these engines,” he said in response to questions. “The WS-19, WS-20 and future fifth-generation engines have opened up the pathway for engine development.”

WS-10 engines are now installed on the indigenous Chengdu J-10 and Shenyang J-11 and J-16 fighters. Meanwhile, the WS-15 was reported to have undergone tests with the Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter in March 2022.

A recent Center for Strategic & International Studies report on Chinese engine technology says one of the hurdles for domestic engine production is access to complex machining tools, especially for five-axis and seven-axis systems, which are mostly found in countries like Germany, Italy and South Korea. 

The report also says China has not been able to optimize the manufacturing process,  “despite attempts to exfiltrate this information.”

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.


1 Comment
"exfiltrate" = "steal" ?