Big New Chinese Order for Russian Fighter Engines

 - October 3, 2011, 4:45 AM
Russia has now sold nearly 1,000 AL-31 engines to China, where they power J-10 and J-11 fighters. (Photo: Vladimir Karnozov)

China has placed additional orders for Russian AL-31-series fighter engines. State arms trade agency Rosoboronexport clinched two big contracts earlier this year. One is for more than 150 AL-31Fs as replacements for earlier engines of same type that power the Su-27/Su-30MKK/MK2 fighters, that are designated J-11 in China. Engines under this contract will be assembled by the Ufa-based UMPO factory.

The second contract is for more than 120 AL-31FN engines to power newly built Chengdu J-10 fighters. Engines under this contract are already being delivered, from the Moscow-based Salut plant.

Speaking to AIN at the Aviation Expo 2011 in Beijing, Salut general director Vladislav Masalov said that negotiations continue on a second batch of nearly 140 AL-31FNs and that a follow-on contract is expected to be signed in October.  

Masalov further said that the grand total of Salut-made AL-31 series engines in China “is nearing one thousand units.” To serve them, Salut has established partnerships with Limin Corp. and Tyan Li company in Chengdu on deliveries and manufacturing of spare parts for both the AL-31F and the AL-31FN. Russia has also agreed to provide all necessary maintenance and repair documentation to the Chinese partners. Salut faces many issues pertaining to ramping up production to fill these big Chinese orders, Masalov said. This year the company must increase its production output by 30 to 40 percent to fulfill the Chinese contracts. “Certainly there is some pressure on us, with bottlenecks being metal and vendor items,” Masalov said.

Meanwhile, Salut is negotiating the sale of another 40 AL-31FM1 engines to the Russian Air Force for the Su-27SM upgrade. Twelve have already been ordered. Talks to supply AL-31FM2 versions for the Su-34 continue, Masalov said.