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WS12 Turbofan

Sources claim that new generation WS10 (e.g. F-100) and WS12 (e.g. AL-31F) turbofan aero-engines make extensive use of US and Russian technologies. As part of the Su-27 fighter technology transfer package, China has acquired the production capability for Russian Klimov/Sarkisov RD33/93 and Saturn Lylulka AL-31F/A turbofan aero-engines, which will provide a significant advance for modern military propulsion systems. The 1,500 hour life AL-31F produces 27,600 pounds thrust with afterburning. The AL-31F will likely be the power plant for domestically produced Su-27s.

Some sources claim that China is aleady using the domestic built jet engine on J-11 B and also on J-10B and one of the J-20 stealth fighter. Taihang turbofan engine built in Shenyang is believed to be more powerful than the Russian built AL-31 engine, because it has two stages of turbine, while the Russian AL-31 has only one turbine stage. As delivered from Russia, the AL-31 is good for 900 hours of operation. Chinese engineers figured out how to tweak the design of the engine so that it lasted for 1,500 hours.

J-10 began development in 1988 and it first flew in 1996. The J-10 is based on the abandoned Israeli Lavi (an improved F-16) project. The J-10 initially used a Russian engine (the AL-31F, the same one used in the Su-27). The prototype aircraft and the first series of production aircraft are fitted with the AL-31FN developing 79kN and 123kN with afterburn, and which is the currently used in the Chinese Air Force Su-27 and Su-30 aircraft. The more highly powered and advanced variant of the J-10, the Super-10, first reported in 2006, is fitted with the AL-31FN M1 supplied by Salyut. The AL-31FN M1 provides 132.5kN and is equipped with full authority digital engine control and a four-way swivelling exhaust nozzle for vectored thrust.

China is developing four high-bypass turbofans, only one of which was well known prior to 2013. All four have potential military and civil applications. Work at 30,000 lb. class and suitable for large transport aircraft was already known, along with development of the similarly sized CJ-1000 engine for the C919 commercial aircraft. But it turns out that there are two such engines from the Shenyang design bureau of Avic Engine: the WS-118 and the SF-A. This was revealed in materials prepared for a 22-23 May 2013 conference organized by Galleon (Shanghai) Consulting in association with Avic. The Avic connection means the conference materials can be taken as semi-official.

A fourth high-bypass Chinese turbofan is in the works, the smaller WS-12C, using the core of the little-known WS-12 combat engine and intended to power the Comac ARJ21 regional jet, whose only publicly revealed engine until now has been the General Electric CF34. With a thrust of 17,600 lb., the WS-12C is under development by the Chengdu Gas Turbine Research Institute.

Originally to be built by Chengdu Engine, it will be transferred to ACAE, the Avic unit developing the CJ-1000, suggesting the engine had a commercial future, even though sales prospects of the much delayed ARJ21, even with a fairly modern Western turbofan, look increasingly doubtful.

Tai shan / Great Mountain

Recent Chinese turbofan engines have been named after famous mountains in China. The WS12 is named after Tai shan, or 'Great mount'. There are four principal mountain ranges in China, viz.: The Celestial, Himalaya, Nan Shan and Soyoti, all of which have peaks extending above the snow line; besides numerous mountain ridges, which are below the snow line. The most celebrated mountain in China is the "Taishan" (Great Mountain), although less than 6,OOO feet high; it is situated in the Province of Shantung.

The high mountain called Tai shan, or 'Great mount,' is situated near Tai-ngan fu in this province. This peak is mentioned in the Shu King as that where Shun sacrificed to Heaven (b.c. 2254); it is accordingly celebrated for its historical as well as religious associations. It towers high above all other peaks in the range, as if keeping solitary watch over the country roundabout, and is the great rendezvous of devotees; every sect had there its temples and idols, scattered up and down its sides, in which priests chant their prayers, and practise a thousand superstitions to attract pilgrims to their shrines. During the spring, the roads leading to the Tai shan are obstructed with long caravans of people coming to accomplish their vows, to supplicate the deities for health or riches, or to solicit the joys of heaven in exchange for the woes of earth.

The pilgrims resorted there during the spring, when there are fairs to attract them; high and low, official and commoner, men and women, old and young, all sorts gather to worship and traffic. A great temple lies outside the town, whose grounds furnished a large and secure area for the tents where the devotees amused themselves, after they had finished their devotions. The road to the summit is about five miles, well paved and was furnished with rest-houses, tea-stalls, and stairways for the convenience of the pilgrims, and shaded with cypresses. In Imperial times it was beset with beggars, men and women with all kinds of sores and diseases, crippled and injured, besieging travellers with cries and self-imposed sufferings, frequently lying across the path so as to be stepped upon. A vast number of them lived on alms thus collected, and scooped themselves holes in the side of the way, where they lived; their numbers indicated the great crowds whose offerings support such a wretched throng on the hill.




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