The crowds were there. The jets were screaming through the sky. The next-gen tech? Not quite so much.
A purpose-built engine for China’s new generation stealth fighter jet has not gone on display as planned at China’s biggest air show after it failed reliability tests, according to military insiders.
It was widely expected that the demonstration of the WS-15 Emei engine for the J-20 “Powerful Dragon” stealth fighter would be one of the highlights of the six-day air show in Zhuhai in the southern province of Guangdong – but there was no sign of it when the show opened on Tuesday.
“The performance of the engine is still very unstable, and engineers have failed to find the key reason for the problems,” a military insider said.
The Zhuhai air show is a key platform for the Chinese military to show off its most advanced weapons, an event seen as a way of boosting the PLA’s morale and promoting patriotism in China.
But insiders said the homegrown WS-15 engine, which has been in development for several years, failed to meet overall reliability targets in long-standing trial runs over the course of hundreds of hours.
Three J-20s that did appear for a six-minute display at the opening of the air show were equipped with Russian AL-31 Saturn engines. (end of excerpt)
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