China has ordered 250 AI-222-25F turbofans from the Ukraine to power production versions of the Hongdu L-15 advanced jet trainer. The –25F is an afterburning version of the AI-222 that was first flown on the Lead-In Fighter Trainer (LIFT) version of the L-15 in October 2010.
The original AI-222 was developed by the Ivchenko Progress design bureau at Zaporozhye for the Russian Yak-130 jet trainer, and was then fitted to three of the four L-15 prototypes. The new order suggests that China will not put the basic version of the L-15 into production.
The AI-222-25F develops 9,250 pounds (4,200 kg) of thrust at full afterburner, enabling the 21,550-pound (9,800 kg)-mtow L-15 LIFT twinjet to accelerate to Mach 1.6. At a price of $10 million, the Chinese aircraft is expected to sell well in international markets. The LIFT version can potentially carry air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons.
The engines will be manufactured at the main Motor Sich factory, also in Zaporozhye. Some components will be provided by Moscow-based Salut, which manufactures the AI-222 for the Yak-130. Deliveries will begin later this year, and are due to be completed by 2015.
Progress general designer Igor Kravchenko told AIN that the AI-222-25F is the first-ever Ukrainian engine to be fitted with an afterburner. “With its development, Progress has mastered reheat technologies, which we are now seeking to apply on a fighter engine in the class of thrust up to 44,000 pounds [20 tonnes],” he said. In its primary 22,000-pound (10-tonne) version, this engine could replace Russia’s Klimov RD-93 on the FC-1 and its Pakistan air force version the JF-17 Thunder.
At the recent Aviation Expo 2011 in Beijing, Progress also offered the higher-thrust SBM1V version of the TV3-117 turboshaft that powers the Mi-17 helicopter. It would boost performance for hot/high operations, such as in mountainous western China. The country has recently taken delivery of 32 additional Mi-17s, and could acquire more from the new joint venture with Russian Helicopters.