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WS13 / RD-33 / RD-93

The WS13 is a modified version of the Russian RD-33 engine. The engine for the FC-1 was initially the Russian RD-93, but it is intended that the WS13 will eventually be used. In 2005 China signed a $267 million contract with Russia for 100 RD-93 turbofan engines, a variant of the RD-33, to power the FC-1 Fierce Dragon fighter aircraft, with options for another 400 engines. Engine deliveries from Klimov and Chernyshev were to begin in 2006. The RD-93 engines is a variant of the RD-33 engine developed to power the MiG-29 fighter jet.

The RD-93 was developed by Russia's Klimov design bureau specifically for the FC-1 fighter, known in Pakistan as the JF-17 Thunder. Pakistan has announced that it could procure 150-300 JF-17 aircraft to meet the tactical and strategic needs of its Air Force. Russia, whose military cooperation with India had been bogged down by a number of sensitive issues, such as a delay in the overhaul of the Gorshkov aircraft carrier and a price escalation with the Su-30 MKI contract, informed China in 2006 that re-exporting RD-93 engines was not allowed without Moscow's permission.

Beijing went ahead and delivered two RD-93 equipped JF-17 fighters to Pakistan in March 2007 prompting India to protest the deal as a violation of the end-user agreement between Russia and China. India, concerned over Islamabad's growing military potential, has asked Russia, its close ally, to "freeze" the deal. In August 2007 Russia blocked China from re-exporting Russian RD-93 engines for Chinese-made fighters to Pakistan.

In late December 2009, Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport signed a contract with China to deliver 43 RD-93 engines. China would receive the engines by the end of 2009. The first 25 engines had been manufactured at the Chernyshev mechanical engineering enterprise in Moscow. The December contract was worth $160 million. The contract completed the framework agreement signed in 2006 to deliver 100 RD-93 engines to China. Russia had already supplied 57 such engines.

Russian aircraft makers MiG and Sukhoi spoke against the sale of RD-93 jet engines to China, citing the threat of strong competition from cheaper Chinese FC-1 fighters, which are direct competitors of the famed MiG-29 Fulcrum aircraft. Russian aircraft industry source say the FC-1 is inferior to MiG-29 in performance, but sells for about $10 million, while the price of a MiG-29 is about $35 mln. By mid-2010 MiG-29s were competing with FC-1s in an Egyptian tender on the delivery of 32 fighters. In addition, Egypt had launched negotiations with Pakistan on the licensed production of FC-1 aircraft.

By November 2010 Russia's state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport was preparing a contract for the delivery of additional RD-93 jet engines to China. "We are holding new talks with the China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation [CATIC] on another option for additional 100 RD-93 engines," Deputy General Director of Rosoboronexport Alexander Mikheyev said at the Airshow China 2010, which is being held on November 16-21 in Zhuhai. "We hope that this contract will be signed," Mikheyev added.

The WS13 engine is 4.14 meters long, 1.02 meters in diameter, weighing 1,135 kg. The engine will have a major repair interval of roughly 810 hrs, service life span 2200 hrs, both far exceed the RD-33 engine. Most western jets have easily double the amount of time interval between overhauls and double the engine life when compared to Chinese and/or Russian engines. The difference lies in material sciences. The alloys and materials used can double the life of the engine thus greatly reducing service costs.

The engine uses a three-string wide solid titanium axial core. The former fans are computer-controlled variable steering guide vanes. The 8-stage axial pressure compressor (for the former three adjustable guide vane) used hollow-cooled single-stage low-pressure turbine rotor blade. The single crystal turbine blades for the high-pressure turbine blade and a guide, annular combustor. a tip clearance control air heat exchanger and integrated digital control system for the whole.

The Klimov RD-33 was developed to power the Mig-29 multi-role fighter. Most of the RD-33 parts are used in the WS-13, some only slightly modified, is a small part of the new development. The introduction of improved production technology equipment is the WP13 most significant gain over the RD-33. Russia is responsible for the training of technical staff and some workers, a number of workers have the training equipment shipped back together, installation and testing of production, and other reasonable arrangements for the various components of production.

Initially, the FC-1/JF-17 project was looking for a new engine instead of the unreliable Russian RD93. So the institute in charge of TianShan21 decided to cooperate with CAC and develop a new engine on the basis of the abandoned Tianshan 21 core engine. The core engine of the WS13 is the core engine of the project "Tianshan 21", one of the competitors for the next Chinese engine after the WS10A. Its T/W ratio is set to 10, while that of AL37 and WS10 is less than 8. By some accounts the TianShan 21 project was given up by the PLA after its core engine was rolled out, because some more attractive projects were available.

The biggest problem with J-31 and the most likely cause of delay was the engine. If it still relies on RD-93 or even domestic WS-13, it is difficult to become a true fifth-generation machine. Unless the legendary WS-19 has made significant progress, it was still a perfect mystery. The early J-20 was driven by the AL-31F, through some specialized development, but still based on the AL-31 but with quite good thrust. The WS-15 engine should have a thrust of 160+ kN and the RD-93 will have a thrust of 80 kN. In addition, WS-15 will be shared with J-20. If the PLA did eventually choose FC-31 as the basis for the fifth-generation carrier-based fighter, as the consensus, even if it was temporary, there must be some satisfactory engine solution. Imagine that the WS-13 was the first to offer an engine because it was not much different from what the J-20 is currently facing, and then the WS-19 became the ultimate power unit.

A Chinese arms firm completed construction of a third-generation medium-thrust aeroengine production line, and analysts said 10 February 2021 that China can now mass produce warplanes without having to rely on imported engines. While the statement did not elaborate on the third-generation medium-thrust aeroengine, Chinese military observers speculated it could be the WS-13 engine, to be used on warplanes including the JF-17 fighter jet jointly developed by China and Pakistan and China’s second stealth fighter jet the FC-31, which is also rumored to become China’s next generation aircraft carrier-based fighter jet in the future.

The construction project for the third-generation medium-thrust aeroengine production line has passed an acceptance check following completion of construction, the National Business Daily reported on 08 February 2021, citing a statement from Aviation Power Co under the state-owned Aero Engine Corporation of China. The company is responsible for the development and production of aeroengines for military and civilian purposes, with the focus being military products and scientific research for new engines, the company said.

China had been importing Russia’s RD-93 engines for these purposes, observers said. The completion of the production line indicates that China has made breakthroughs in aeroengine production, Xu Guangyu, a senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times. China will be able to mass produce the engines, which will allow the mass production of warplanes, Xu said.

				PRC 	RU 	Percentage
 				WS13 	RD-93	Difference
Length (m):			4.15	4.25	-2.35%
Diameter (m):			1.02	1.04	-1.92%
Weight (kg): 			1135	1055	+7.58%
Thrust (afterburning, kN):	86.37	81.3	+6.24%
Thrust (dry, kN):	 	56.75 	50 	+13.50%
Bypass ratio: 			0.57 	0.49 	+16.33%

Tien Shan [Celestial Mountains]

Recent Chinese turbofan engines have been named after famous mountains in China. The WS13 is named after Tien Shan [Celestial Mountains]. There are four principal mountain ranges in China, viz.: The Tien Shan [Celestial Mountains], 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 Tien Shan [Celestial Mountains] and Altai mountain systems approach each other to within a hundred miles, the intervening space being occupied by high steppe, which forms the first rise from the Dzungarian lowlands to the Mongolian plateau. This eastern extension of the Tian Shan chain, which approaches so closely to the Altai Range and which extends far into Mongolia before disappearing in the Gobi Desert, is composed of the ranges called the Bogdo-ola, Barkul, and Karlik Tagh, and, still farther east, the Ati Bogdo. It is somewhere among these mountains that the true dividing-line exists between the two subdivisions.

The Tien-shan is in its mean direction parallel to the equator. It serpentines between the 41st and 43rd degrees of latitude. It extends from Ming-bulak (or the thousand sources) of the western Buruts to the Chinese city of Kuku-khote (about 200 miles west of the great ocean); about eight times the length of the chain of the Pyrenees. Westward of the cross-range of the Bolor, the Tien-shan extends as far as the meridian of Samarkand-the mountains of Asferah, celebrated in the memoirs of Baber. The denomination Tien-shan is strictly applicable only to the portion of the range intercepted between the meridian of the Bolor and the great swelling of the Gobi east of Hami and Barkul. Between lake Chagan and the western extremity of the In-shan (which, although two degrees farther south, is the continuation of the Tien-shan in China proper) the elevation of this range is less obvious, owing to the height of the table-land through which it rises.

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Page last modified: 01-08-2021 14:07:20 ZULU