Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced plans to strengthen the country’s aviation industry, particularly the field of advanced engines. Commenting on Xi’s remarks, Russian analysts told online newspaper Svobodnaya Pressa that the day when China comes to match the capabilities of Russian and US air power may be just around the corner.
Late last month, China Daily reported that President Xi hailed the establishment of a new company, Aero Engine Corp of China, which is set to research, develop, and manufacture aircraft engines for the Chinese aviation industry. The newspaper said that the decision was “a strategic move that will improve the aviation industry and boost the modernization of the Chinese military.”
The paper emphasized that at present, “aircraft engines remain one of the few fields in which the country still lags largely behind top players, especially the United States.” China, the paper added, continues to rely on imported engines for its most advanced aircraft, including the J-10 fighter and the Y-20 transport, as well as the new-generation J-20 stealth fighter, which “used Russian-made engines for its test flight.”
Accordingly, China Daily pointed out that the Made in China 2025 blueprint, adopted by the Chinese government last year, listed aircraft engines “as one of the 10 crucial manufacturing sectors” whose development the state would “strongly” support. With the opening of the Aero Engine Corp of China, it seems that Beijing’s initiative is quickly moving to resolve the industry’s problems.
Commenting on the initiative, and on China’s prospects for matching Russian and American capabilities in military aviation, Russia’s Svobodnaya Pressa online newspaper spoke to two experts on the subject, including Alexander Khramchikhin, deputy director of Russia’s Institute of Political and Military Analysis, and Andrei Frolov, editor of Arms Export magazine.
China, Khramchikhin recalled, is already among the top three military powers in the world, alongside the US and Russia, and is capable of competing accordingly, including in military aviation.
“China’s Air Force, like that of Russia, remains behind the US when it comes to support aircraft (including tankers, transport planes, and electronic warfare planes), but is steadily closing the gap,” the analyst explained.
Furthermore, “in terms of the numbers of 4th generation it will have in the coming years, China will confidently come out first in the world, besting both the US and Russia – and its airplanes will be physically newer.”