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    In this photo provided by China's Xinhua News Agency, the J-20 stealth fighter jet flies at the China's International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016

    New Ramjet Engine Enhances Combat Ability of China's Stealthy J-20

    © AP Photo / Li Gang/Xinhua
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    China has successfully tested its solid-fuel variable flow ramjet engine in two recent airspace experiments, a breakthrough in the engine research fields which could enhance real combat ability of China's stealth aircraft including the J20 jet fighters, according to military experts.

    A research team from No. 4 research institute affiliated with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation revealed on May 31 that the team has successfully conducted two flight tests with the solid-fuel variable flow ramjet engine. The team said the new ramjet engine is ready for further engineering application, paving the way for China's next generations of hypersonic missiles, the Science and Technology Daily reported on Thursday.

    According to the report, the solid-fuel ramjet engine is a member of the ramjet engine family, which has the advantage of low cost, high power, and high controllability with compact size. And it is hardly accessible in the world as it demands sophisticated and highly difficult research on technology. 

    The new engine, can remarkably increase the firing range and mobility for air-to-air missiles and antiship missiles equipped with China's stealth aircraft including the J20 jet fighters, Song Zhongping, a military expert who used to serve in the PLA Rocket Force, told the Global Times. 

    The engine will enable the J20 fighters to fire from greater range and the missiles to fly faster at a hypersonic speed, which will increase their combat ability, Song said. 

    The research institute has established a special research team to work on the project since 2000, and in recent years, the research institute has conducted eight flight tests with the new ramjet engines. 

    It is a milestone in the field of engine research, which has been a bottleneck for China for quite a while, Li Jie, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times on Monday. 

    Once the engine achieves miniaturization, it will very likely enable China's air-to-air missiles to strike targets up to 300 kilometers at a speed faster than Mach 5, Song estimated, adding that the engine can be applied to China's latest missiles including PL12 missiles. 

    A lot of research needs to be done in the future to achieve that. For example, China should also conduct research on building up a super range detection network to support such a long-range strike, and the precision guiding system should be capable of processing information at super high speeds, Wang Ya'nan, chief editor of the Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times.

    At present, such an engine will be mainly used on missiles, as for the manned aircraft, there is still a long way to go, since the thrust of such engines are still not enough for that, Song said. 

    Cruise missiles and experimental aircraft including drones can also adopt such technology to realize high-speed travel within the atmosphere, Wang added.

    This article was authored by Deng Xiaoci and first appeared in the Global Times. 

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    J-20, PLA Strategic Rocket Force
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