Fan Xuejun, head of Institute of Mechanics’ [hypersonic] “scramjet” division – focused on using high vehicle speed to compress incoming air forcefully before combustion – was lead scientist for the hypersonic project. Fan told the South China Morning Post that a hypersonic engine plant would make engines in a range of models for customers in military and civilian sectors.
Above – The Tengyun, which has a rocket/TRCC-powered first stage hypersonic plane, launches a reusable second-stage rocket spaceplane from the stratosphere. CCTV
The hypersonic scramjets built in the Hefei factory will likely be part of a Turbo Rocket Combined Cycle (TRCC) engine, which uses
1. a turbofan jet engine for subsonic and low supersonic speeds,
2. a ramjet engine to transition into scramjet mode, and
3. a rocket engine for the highest speed.
A TRCC engine would allow for reusable hypersonic aircraft, which would lower operating costs.
As plans are already being drawn for the factory construction, it is likely that the first TRCC engine will use an operational Chinese turbofan, either the WS-10 or WS-118.
The WS-10 engine, which has a maximum thrust of around 13 tons, is used by the J-11 and J-16 fighters. The WS-118, a copy of the Soviet D-30 engine, could be modified with an afterburner to achieve supersonic performance. As Chinese engine technology improves, the supercruise-capable WS-15, which has supersonic performance without fuel-thirsty afterburners, could be used for future TRCC engines.
SOURCES- South China Morning Post, Popular Science