BEIJING, May 13 (INP) China’s aviation industry is working on the development of aircraft with short takeoff and vertical landing capabilities needed for an important role in the Chinese navy’s future operations, military experts said. “Research and development on components of STOVL aircraft, such as the engine, have started,” Wang Ya’nan, deputy editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told China Daily. In late March, the Aviation Industry Corp of China, the country’s leading aircraft maker, announced on its website that two of its subsidiaries – AVIC Chengdu Engine Group and China Aviation Engine Establishment – have signed a cooperation agreement on the development of the STOVL aircraft’s engine.
The statement said the STOVL aircraft project aims to strengthen the People’s Liberation Army navy’s amphibious combat capability and address the absence of such a weapon in the PLA’s arsenal. Compared with conventional fixed-wing aircraft, a STOVL plane can be readied for action in a shorter period of time and occupies less space in a hangar bay or on the deck of a ship. These features have made it a popular choice for naval powers since late 1960s, when Britain’s subsonic Hawker Siddeley Harrier became the first STOVL aircraft to be put in service. If China had STOVL aircraft, they could be deployed on the CNS Liaoning and other ships to defend against incoming enemy aircraft, relieving the burden on the J-15s, which could then focus on long-range operations, Wang said.