The plant that would be built in Hefei, in China’s eastern Anhui province, could give the country an edge over the United States and Russia in the race to achieve large-scale applications of hypersonic technology.
The Institute of Mechanics, or Imech, is a major developer of hypersonic weapons in China.
No completion date for the project was given.
The project would add to Hefei’s growing reputation as China’s “science city”. In the past decade it has become the backdrop for the nation’s first quantum computer and fusion reactor.
The engine project was the result of Beijing’s campaign to use breakthroughs in military technology to stimulate economic growth.
Fan Xuejun, head of Imech’s “scramjet” division – focused on using high vehicle speed to compress incoming air forcefully before combustion – was lead scientist for the project.
Fan told the Post that the plant would make engines in a range of models for customers in military and civilian sectors.
The Hefei-produced engine could be a variant of a rocket-based combined cycle system under intensive testing at Imech’s ground facility in Huairou, Beijing.
Hypersonic breakthrough by Russia, US and China and Putin’s hypersonic missile is real
Scientists in the hypersonic research community believe that Russia, the US and China have recently overcome the technical hurdles and achieved the long-term, stable operation of scramjet engines.
China and the US could be neck and neck in the race to achieve a mass application of hypersonic technology, but both countries remain a step or two behind Russia, according to Liu Hong, an award-winning hypersonic scientist at the school of aeronautics and astronautics at Shanghai Jiaotong University.
In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country’s military had deployed the world’s first hypersonic weapon system. The intercontinental hypersonic missile, Putin said, would fly to targets at 20 times the speed of sound.
“Putin is telling the truth,” Liu said. Though the hypersonic weapon tests in the US and China received the most media coverage, it was generally agreed among researchers that “the Russians are the leader in this field”, he said.
Multiple companies and organizations in China are competing for hypersonic development
In China, at least four or five major state-owned companies or government organizations also have unveiled ambitious plans to make use of hypersonic flight science.
In 2016, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp said it was developing a hybrid space plane that would take off and land in a normal airport with a combined cycle engine.
Its major rival, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, launched a similar project called Teng Long, or soaring dragon, soon afterward.
In early March, the China Aerodynamics Research and Development Centre, the hypersonic weapon development branch of the People’s Liberation Army in Mianyang, Sichuan province, announced a successful test of a prototype spacecraft in the Gobi Desert, in Inner Mongolia. The vehicle was believed to be a hypersonic space plane.
SOURCE – South China Morning Post