Russian engine-makers develop engines of fifth generation

This week the manufacturer of the aviation engines Moscow-based plant Salyut reminded that the results of the tender according to which the Rybinsk-based Saturn was selected the head company in the project of developing the 5th generation engine for the perspective combat aerial complex (PAK FA) may not be final. In particular Salyut once again offered its AL-31F-M3 (the “final upgrade” of the existing AL-31F) for PAK FA. According to Salyut’s deputy general director on science Valentin Krymov AL-31F-M1 (the first stage upgrade) is ready and it suits the whole Su-27 family.

Some time ago the Commander of the Russian Air Force Vladimir Mihailov said that the performance of this engine surpassed the expectations of the AF. At the moment the works on AL-31F-M2 are in full swing. AL-31F-M3 with the thrust of 14.5 tons completely meets the requirements of the PK FA, which is to take off in 2009. The second and the third stages of the upgrade will be also offered for the export-oriented Su-35. It is clear that Salyut recognizes that Sukhoi (the designer of PAK FA) so far orients more towards the competitor engine 117C of Saturn, but on the other hand the decisive point will be technical readiness. There is direct evidence for that. Earlier the Commander of the RFAF Vladimir Mihailov said that the engines made by Salyut "are exactly what we need for the planes Su-34, as well as for the fifth generation plane".

This situation vividly illustrates the beginning of the competition organized by the authors of the reforms in the Russian military-industrial level among so called suppliers of the 2nd and 3rd echelons. Until recently it hasn’t been known whether the engine makers will have the competition or form yet another vertically integrated structure. Today the principal decision in favor of competition has been taken, however, certain “enlarging” processes will take place. The existing leaders are about to take over smaller companies. In this context it is worthwhile taking a look what is going on with the rivals in the technical field.

Probably the strongest point of Saturn is its civil project with the Sukhoi Super Jet-110. With this aircraft Saturn’s SaM-146 secures a huge and stable market. D-30KP-2 engine used on the main military transport aircraft Il-76 is also a considerable niche. Saturn is to deliver the engines for the Chinese Il-76 and Il-78. The company also plans to become a leader in the niche of the ground gas turbines ranged between 40 and 150 MWt. With this aim in mind it decided to set up a joint venture with the American General Electric. According to the deputy head of Saturn Sergey Chuklinov the parties will be represented in the JV by GE Energy and Saturn – Gas Turbines. The same niche is actively developed by Saturn abroad. Indian Hindustan Aeronautics Limited may start ordering ground turbines from NPO Saturn from this year. Yet another point is the big contract on delivering Al-55 engines to India and their license manufacturing there.

Moscow based Salyut competes with Saturn nearly in all niches. Last year Salyut and the Chinese Liming Engine Manufacturing company signed the agreement on creating a joint venture. The new company will make gas turbines ranging between 20 and 60 MWt based on the engines AL-21 and AL-31. It will also deal with upgrading the fighters’ engines and creating new engine for the transport aircraft being developed in China. Salyut starts serial manufacturing of the engines for the training jet Yak-130, having a big market potential in Russia and abroad.

Today Salyut is also making the engines for the Su-27SK of the Russian MoD (the latest multi-functional model of the well-known fighter serially made by the Komsomolsk-on-Amur based KnAAPO) as well as for the newest Su-34. It seems that the upgrades currently done for the national MoD became the realm of Salyut. Salyut has traditionally better position in the foreign markets. The engines exported under the recently concluded contracts to the countries operating Su-27/30 are mostly made by Salyut.

Yuri Seleznyov

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