Russia Relaunches Production of Engine Cores for the MiG-31

 - August 13, 2019, 8:19 AM
The MiG-31 “Foxhound” is the VKS’s main long-range interceptor. The MiG-41 replacement is under development for possible fielding in the mid/late 2020s. (Photo: Vladimir Karnozov)

Russia’s United Engine Corporation (local acronym ODK) is halfway through an effort to relaunch the series production of the core engine (gas-generator) for the D30F6 reheated turbofan that powers the MiG-31 interceptor. The work is being carried out by the Perm Motor Plant (PMZ).

This company manufactured about 1,600 such engines in the 1979-1992 timeframe, each developing a maximum thrust of 152 kN (34,170 pounds). Due to the high utilization of the MiG-31 fleet over the past decade, the stock of spare engines is running out, and operators and industry need to replenish it by overhauling some engines through the replacement of worn-out parts in the hot section.

A member of ODK’s Perm Motors division that unites several enterprises located in the city of Perm, PMZ has recently resumed the manufacture of the high-pressure turbine (HPT) and combustion chamber. This effort took three years, according to ODK-Perm Motors CEO Sergei Popov. Together with some other parts, these items are now included in a typical repair kit for the Aircraft Repair Plant no. 218 at Gatchina (ARZ218) that specializes in D30F6 heavy maintenance.

The next three years will be devoted to relaunching production of the high-pressure compressor (HPC). With that accomplished, PMZ will be in a position to assemble a completely new gas-generator for the D30F6 by late 2021. Popov said that, as of today, there are no plans for the manufacture of a complete engine. Instead, starting in early 2022, his enterprise would supply “extended repair kits” to ARZ218.

Out of the production run of some 520 MiG-31s, half remain operational in Russia and Kazakhstan. The Russian Air and Space Force (VKS) wants to keep the type in service until 2035. Since 2012, about 60 aircraft have undergone modernization into the MiG-31BM/BSM version. Earlier this year, the Russian defense ministry awarded United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) a new order. While exact numbers remain secret, UAC president Yuri Slyusar said that all surviving MiG-31s will undergo modernization by 2023.

In the meantime, local media and experts have speculated on the possibility of restarting D30F6 production to power the MiG-41/PAK DP, a next-generation high-speed interceptor that is under development to replace the MiG-31. Additionally, the Aviadvigatel design house that developed the engine intends to employ its gas-generator in a new 32-MW industrial turbine for Gazprom and other fossil fuel companies. Should this product sell well, it would help the industry invest in the production restoration effort—not just of the core, but of the entire engine.