By Henry Ivanov JDW Correspondent
China is developing an advanced version of the Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Corporation (CAC) J-10 multirole fighter aircraft, referred to as the Super-10, with a more powerful engine, thrust-vector control, stronger airframe and passive phased-array radar, according to Russian sources.
Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG (RSK-MiG) specialists, contracted to provide technical assistance to Chinese design houses, said the enhancement to the J-10 airframe is a logical step, since the fighter was initially intended to have the compact Pratt&Whitney PW1120 engine that powered the Israeli Lavi aircraft, which served as a basis for the J-10.
However, the imposition of US export restrictions forced the decision to install the 20 per cent heavier Russian AL-31FN engine, which requires a larger intake as it needs 40 per cent more air flow.
In late 2005 China placed a USD300 million order for a second batch of AL-31FN engines; these are a derivative of the Su-27's AL-31F for single-engine aircraft, with a lower positioning of the gearbox. At first, it was believed the contract was for the same engines as in the first batch of 54 units supplied in 2001-02 and installed into development prototypes and initial production J-10s. However, AL-31FN-maker Moscow Machine Production Plant (MMPP) Salyut in December 2005 revealed the order to be for the AL-31FN M1, which is claimed to be a new AL-31FN production standard.
The company's general manager, Yuri Eliseyev, said the new engine was purposely developed for what he referred to as the "Chinese Super-10 fighter". Four such engines have been seen assembled at MMPP Salyut's Moscow production site. One of these has been demonstrated undergoing fire testing, during which its swivel nozzle was deflected up/down and sideways at full power and reheated thrust.
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