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After J-20: How China Plans to Become Aviation Superpower

© Flickr / Times AsiChina's J-20 stealth fighter
China's J-20 stealth fighter - Sputnik International
The state-of-the-art J-20 fifth-generation jet fighter is a key part of the Chinese air force. But Beijing has big plans for its aviation industry, including new commercial jets and a new engine-production company.

The state-owned Aero Engine Corp of China (AECC) was launched in August as part of a multi-billion dollar effort to boost the country’s domestic aviation production, and the company’s grand plans are on full display at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition this week, including mock-ups of new engines like the Jade Dragon, as well as gas turbines.

China unveils its J-20 stealth fighter on an air show in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, China, November 1, 2016. - Sputnik International
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While Beijing has already developed a number of engines for fighter planes, it has not yet produced a homegrown engine for commercial passenger jets. AECC could change that.

"I think in about 10 years we’ll see the first Chinese (commercial) engine," said Steffen Kunth, chief financial officer of MTU Maintenance, an aircraft-engine repair facility.

"There’s a lot of money involved there…you see how they’re supported by the Chinese universities, how many engineers every year enter into this industry, so it’s a matter of time that they will have this technology and will have an engine flying."

Also on display at the airshow were two Chengdu J-20 stealth fighters, Beijing’s latest fifth-generation jet fighter.

"In my opinion, the machine is based on the Russian MiG 1.44. That plane was created to compete with the PAK FA at the preliminary design stage, and made its maiden flight in 2000," Dmitry Drozdenko, deputy editor of Russian military magazine Arsenal of the Fatherland, told Sputnik.

China unveils its J-20 stealth fighter during an air show in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, China, November 1, 2016 - Sputnik International
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“The Chinese plane is very similar. Although it hasn’t been announced officially, the J-20 uses our AL-31F engine, developed by Salut, which the Chinese bought for half a billion dollars.”

Chinese officials maintain that the J-20 will be exclusive to the People’s Liberation Army Air Force.

"We are not considering putting [the J-20] on the global market," Air Force Commander General Ma Xiaotian said, according to the South China Morning Post.

He added that he was pleased with a demonstration flight performed during the airshow.

"Of course I’m satisfied,” he said. “It’s a very good thing that our J-20 made an appearance here. We’re speeding up its development."

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