ODK To Develop Next-gen Engine for Russian SSBJ

 - September 11, 2019, 12:40 PM

Russia’s United Engine Corp. (local acronym ODK) will develop a completely new engine core for TsAGI's proposed next-generation supersonic business jet (SSBJ). That work is expected to be completed within the next four years, according to Yuri Shmotin, deputy general director-general designer at ODK. “It is our understanding that we should be able to come up with a new baseline gas-generator in 2023 or 2024. It should have technical parameters so as to enable a complete engine to meet modern [environmental] requirements," he explained.

Shmotin further said his team plans research and development work to complete the job in the given time frame. A list of critical technologies necessary for the creation of such an engine core has been compiled. At the same time, “[development of] the [complete] engine for a [next-gen] supersonic transport is not yet made into a stand-alone project."

In yet another development earlier this month, also related to the future supersonic jet, Russia’s minister for industry and trade Denis Manturov said the investment already made into the SSBJ development has come to 1.4 billion roubles ($21.2 million). Rough estimates render a deliverable SSBJ to cost twice as much as subsonic business jets of similar seating capacity (16 to 19 seats). The ongoing effort is led by TsAGI, the local acronym for Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute, and six other scientific research establishments.

The minister suggested the new airplane will have a top speed of Mach 2.4, or up to 1,620 knots/2,000 km per hour. Detailed specifications are anticipated in the 2020 to 2022 timeframe, along with construction of a technology demonstrator. Documentation for serial aircraft is expected in the 2022 to 2026 timeframe. Much investment is needed for the powerplant, since no existing engines look like suitable for the next-generation supersonic transport, Manturov added.

The two statements contradict to previous reports that Russia was going to produce a civilian version of the Kuznetsov NK32-02 reheated turbofan developed recently for the Tupolev Tu-60M2 strategic swing-wing bomber, an operable prototype of which is undergoing flight trials. Thus, the engine represents the last step in the long evolution that commenced with the NK-144 developed for the first generation Tu-144 supersonic transport.

Even though that airplane’s project was canceled, the engine provided a base for the development of the NК-144-22, NК-22, NК-23, and KN-25 for the Tu-22M “Eurostrategic” bomber and its derivatives, and, later, the NK-32 for the Tu-160.

Commencing in 1963, this evolution has resulted in a twofold increase in pressure ratio (up to 28.2) and a 20 percent rise in gas temperature (up to 1,630 degrees Kelvin). The Tu-144LL flying laboratory that made several dozen flights between 1996 and 1998 relied on the NK-321 motors (derived from the baseline NK-32) under the NASA-led “High-Speed Commercial Transport” effort. Weighing 3,650 kg (about 8,000 pounds), the 7.5-meter-long/24-foot NK-321 has fifteen compressor and four turbine stages to develop a maximum thrust of 54,000 pounds/24.5 metric tons.