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Game Changer: Xi’an Y-20B Transport Aircraft Equipped with Chinese WS-20 Engines Signals Shift from Russian to Domestic Technology

China’s Xi’an Y20B transport aircraft have undergone engine replacement. The previous Russian engines have been swapped out for domestically produced power units.

Here’s What We Know State-run Chinese television has reported on the upgraded aircraft, suggesting that the Xi’an Y20B, now equipped with the new engines, may have already been adopted by the People’s Liberation Army of China.

Previously, the aircraft relied on the Russian-made D-30KP-2 engine. However, the Chinese military made the decision to abandon it in favor of the WS-20 propulsion system. This move aims to reduce dependence on Russia, which is considered an unreliable partner due to sanctions.

The WS-20 engine offers a thrust of 137.9 kN, surpassing the 117.65 kN of the D-30KP-2. China likely encountered no major obstacles in developing the new engine, as it was originally scheduled for completion by 2024.

While the Xi’an Y20B is positioned as a competitor to the C-17 Globemaster, it was previously hindered by the Russian engine, preventing it from effectively competing with US aircraft. The introduction of China’s WS-20 propulsion system is anticipated to bring the Y20B closer to the performance of the Globemaster.

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