The design institute at Chengdu flew a J-10B development aircraft fitted with the indigenous Shenyang Liming WS-10A Taihang engine at the end of July. All previous J-10s, apart from the first few prototypes, have flown with the Russian AL-31FN engine. The aircraft with the homegrown engine is coded “1035” and is presumably the fifth J-10B prototype, although that number may include a ground-test article.
The WS-10 has always been the intended powerplant for the J-10, but problems with its development led to an early switch to the Russian powerplant. The J-10B flight trials suggest that the engine has matured enough to now be considered for a single-engine application. Clearance of the Taihang engine would make the J-10 an “all-Chinese” aircraft, available for export without any external restrictions.
Meanwhile, an uncorroborated report of comments attributed to a high-ranking official at the Chengdu facility stated that the J-10B is about to enter production for the Chinese air force, and that the first unit of approximately 10 aircraft (with AL-31FN engines) could be delivered by year-end.
According to this same report, production of the J-10B, which features active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and a diverterless supersonic intake, would proceed alongside that of the J-10A for some time.