Russia Moves Forward on Supersonic Development

 - August 3, 2020, 6:02 PM
Russia is addressing civilian supersonic travel on a number of fronts, including with concepts from Tupolev and TsAGI and most recently soliciting proposals for innovations.

Russia’s ministry for industry and trade is moving forward on a number of fronts to develop civilian supersonic jets, including opening a tender soliciting technological innovation proposals. The ministry is allocating an initial RUB 213 million ($2.9 million) in 2020 and RUB 505 million RUB in 2021 for the tender, coded SGS-T1.

Opened in April and with proposals due Dec. 15, 2021, the competition is seen as a tool to stimulate the development of technologies and engineering solutions that would facilitate a bigger supersonic business jet effort and overcome current obstacles to the return of civilian supersonic flight.

“The existing scientific-technical base is insufficient to commence full-scale R&D work on the next-gen supersonic jet,” according to tender documentation. “Therefore, there is a high technological risk further worsened by the absence of [international] requirements to the sound boom levels in the vicinity of airports, as well as theoretical and experimental data to do with engineering solutions and technologies.”

The research supports other ongoing efforts, including by Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC). The state-backed group’s July 2019 annual report calls next-generation supersonic passenger jets one of the promising activities for its member enterprises.

UAC member Tupolev has outlined a future 30-passenger SSBJ that would weigh 70 tons (154,320 pounds) and cruise at 2,000 km/h (1,080 knots). Last year, the manufacturer completed research and development work on the assessment of the SSBJ shape, targeting an 8,000-km (4,320-nm) range at Mach 2.

The aircraft is “intended for businessmen, top civil servants and all others who consider time an absolute priority.” Should “positive developments” occur, Tupolev believes it could complete technical specification for a technology demonstrator within the next two years. The demonstrator would be used to conduct “field observations” with design and documentation for production following in the 2022 to 2026 timeframe.

Earlier, the ministry for industry and trade awarded TsAGI contracts worth RUB 1.4 billion for supersonic studies. TsAGI has formulated a technical proposal codenamed Strizh (Swift) on an airframe measuring 38 meters [125 feet] in length, seating two pilots and six passengers. TsAGI is targeting establishing 2024 for the new core engine specification.

“Engineering centers and other UAC members together with TsAGI and other scientific and research institutes have been working on a next-gen supersonic jetliner, including for business aviation applications,” said minister Denis Manturo.