Aviation firms enter engine market

By Xu Tianran Source:Global Times Published: 2011-4-13 17:34:00

Aviation companies will invest heavily in improving domestic jet engines over the next five years as part of a plan to boost China's defense and aeronautic capabilities.

The companies would splash 10 billion yuan ($1.52 billion) on them, Lin Zuoming, Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) general manager announced Sunday.

"This will be the largest AVIC investment in China's aviation industry," he told the Global Times.

China's most capable domestic fighter planes are the Chengdu J-10 and the Shengyang J-11. The Shengyang J-11 is a domestic variant of the Russian Suhoi Su-27, according to the Chinese Military Aviation website.

Both the Chengdu J-10 single engine fighter and early models of the Shenyang J-11 double engine heavy fighters use Russian AL-31FN/F engines. Domestic-made WS-10 engines now power the latest Shenyang J-11 fighters.

The C919 civil passenger aircraft, manufactured by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, relies on Western engines, as does the ARJ-21 advanced regional jet.

A domestic-made engine for the C919 is scheduled to be delivered by 2020, Wang Zhilin, general manager of COMAC, was quoted as saying in an April 2 China News Service report.

"To make China a major player in the world aviation industry, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China has placed aircraft engine development as top priority," Lin said.

According to AVIC's official prediction, net profits of the corporation last year were more than 10.5 billion yuan ($1.6 billion). 

Engine development in China is relatively weak compared to aircraft design or other sub-systems, industry insiders such as Zhou Jun, AVIC external cooperation department chief, have long been saying.

Meanwhile, three days before the AVIC announcement, the China Association for Science and Technology released the Ordnance Technology Development Report 2010-2011, stating that domestic smart sub-munitions for rockets of multiple-rocket launchers have reached advanced international standards.

The report also claimed the defense industry would develop a high performance medium-caliber artillery system for air defense that included intercepting incoming missiles, Hong Kong-based Ta Kung Pao reported Saturday.

In some areas such as high efficiency warhead and propulsion system of rockets, China is still behind the US and Russia, the report stated.

The gap was partially caused by inadequate foundation research, believed Xiong Wei, deputy editor of Ordnance Knowledge.

"Little has been invested in basic research over the past years," he said. "Take explosives for example. That involves multiple sectors including materials, manufacturing technology and the industrial foundation of the nation."

Through economic development, more money should be spent on supporting foundation research and an integration of military and civil industries should be promoted, Xiong argued.

"Technologies transferred to civil areas will bring profits to the defense industry and accelerate development of defense technology," he said.

"Advanced civil technologies, especially in electronic and material sectors, could also benefit the development of military equipment."

Posted in: China Watch

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