China's most powerful fighter engine to date, the WS-15 meant for the J-20 heavy stealth jet, has exhibited super-cruise and super-manoeuvrability in recent tests.

With the tests, all parameters of the WS-15 have been further improved and optimized, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Sunday. The WS-15 is expected to replace the WS-10 engine, currently used in the J-20 in the future enabling the J-20 to reach its maximum performance envelope.

Developed for fifth-generation heavy and medium fighter jets, the WS-15 has a low bypass ratio and is capable of thrust vector control.

A distinguishing characteristic of a next generation high thrust engine for combat aircraft is that it should have a thrust of between 15 to 18 tons, military expert Wang Mingliang said on CCTV.

“When the J-20 gets the new engines, it will become a more powerful platform, thanks to boosted super-cruise capability and super-manoeuvrability, in addition to its already excellent stealth capability and situational awareness,” the expert claimed.

China has already displayed a thrust vector control-capable engine in flight by a J-10 fighter jet at Air Show China 2018. So such technology will not be a problem for China, and the increase in the thrust-to-weight ratio and the reduction in fuel consumption has always been a goal in engine development, Wang Ya'nan, chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times.

The technology gap between China and leading countries like the U.S. in terms of jet engine development had been significantly narrowed in recent years, said Wang Ya'nan.

Besides the WS-15, the WS-20, China's next generation turbofan engine with a high bypass ratio, is believed to be undergoing tests on the Y-20 large transport aircraft currently.