Tag Archives: ODK

Cold Water on PAK FA

ODK General Director Aleksandr Artyukhov has dampened the prospects for Russia’s developmental fifth generation fighter aircraft, the T-50 or PAK FA.  Friday in Lukhovitsy at the presentation of the MiG-35, Artyukhov told RIA Novosti that R&D on PAK FA’s “second phase” engine won’t be complete until 2020.

t-50-pak-fa-photo-ria-novosti-aleksandr-vilf

T-50 / PAK FA (photo: RIA Novosti / Aleksandr Vilf)

This contrasts with the more hopeful announcement late last year from Sukhoy aircraft plant KnAAZ when the “second phase” engine or “item 30” commenced stand tests.

ODK’s Artyukhov told the media that the plan is to begin flight tests of the “second phase” engine this year.

Existing prototypes fly with the first phase or “item 117S” engine (AL-41F1S). However, “item 30” advertises reduced infrared signature, increased thrust, supercruise, improved fuel efficiency, and lower life-cycle costs.

Artyukhov’s predecessor said more than two years ago that a PAK FA with a “second phase” engine would not fly until 2017.  ODK once hoped this would happen in 2015, but OAK’s former chief Mikhail Pogosyan said possibly not even before 2019.

But even with a tested “item 30” engine, it will be a challenge to integrate and test it fully this year.  So the first PAK FA fighters to reach the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) will probably have “item 117S” engines.

As the PAK FA’s engine has slipped, so has the aircraft itself.

The VKS officially hopes to accept its newest fighter in 2017, and take delivery of five in late 2017 or 2018.  It looks toward a total buy of 55 PAK FA.

However, in mid-2015, Deputy Defense Minister Yuriy Borisov said the military would procure one squadron of 12 PAK FA.  He didn’t commit to more.  Borisov said Russia would buy fewer PAK FA than planned because the 4++ generation Su-35 is superior to new foreign fighters in many respects.

Item 30

PAK FA

PAK FA

HT to Militaryparitet.com for pointing to Lenta.ru on the status of work on PAK FA’s advanced “second phase” engine.

Lenta (citing Interfaks) says a source close to ODK General Director Vladislav Masalov says a PAK FA with the “second phase” engine will fly in 2017.

He reportedly said the “second phase” engine will replace “item 117” and give PAK FA supercruise capability while being 15-18 percent more fuel efficient and cheaper to maintain.

Lenta notes the developmental engine is “item 30” not “item 129” as cited previously in Russian media.

The AL-41F1 is “item 117.”  Current PAK FA prototypes and the Su-35S have “item 117S” (AL-41F1S) engines.

Recall, in 2010, ODK along with NPO Saturn hoped the “second phase” engine would fly by 2015.  However, OAK President Pogosyan was considerably less sanguine, saying that the advanced engine might come in 2019, or later.

Update on World-Class Competitors

By way of follow-up on a previous post, Defense News’ list of the top 100 defense industrial producers for 2011 is out.  No change in Russian companies except for some changes of position on the list.

Sukhoy, Helicopters of Russia, and RTI moved up the list with increased revenue over 2010.  Almaz-Antey, Irkut, and United Engine-building slipped down.  RSK MiG hasn’t reported 2011 data.

Here’s last year’s post.

Some World-Class Competitors

Despite problems with its state defense order and defense-industrial complex, Russia clearly has world-class defense producers.  This is apparent not just from their arms exports, but it’s also evident in their defense-related revenue.

Eight Russian companies just made the Defense News list of the Top 100 defense corporations worldwide.  They are Almaz-Antey, Helicopters of Russia, Sukhoy, Irkut, United Engine-building, Tactical Missiles, KB Instrument-building, and RTI Sistemy.

With 2010 defense revenue of nearly $4 billion, Almaz-Antey has appeared in the list since 2005 (Antey appeared alone prior to that).  Yet its revenue’s only about half that of Thales, a fourth of EADS, perhaps reflecting that those companies are more diversified in their defense and non-defense business. 

Helicopters of Russia vaulted into the middle of the Top 100 list with 2010 defense revenue of nearly $2 billion (a gain of 134.1% over 2009).  Consolidation of its helo design and manufacturing capabilities seems to have put Russia on the map (or at least on the Top 100).  Still, Helicopters of Russia has about half the defense revenue of Textron, and half as much diversification in its business.  The difference is more pronounced when comparing to United Technologies.

Sukhoy and Irkut need no introduction, but it’s a little surprising that their defense revenue was lower than Helicopters of Russia.

United Engine-building (ODK) is an interesting case.  Not huge defense revenue, but more diversified than other Russian corporations in the Top 100.

A number of Russian companies have fallen out of the Top 100 over the years.  They include submarine and shipbuilders Sevmash, Admiralty Wharves, and Northern Wharf (the United Shipbuilding Corporation — OSK — hasn’t appeared in their place), RSK MiG, Uralvagonzavod, and Aerospace Equipment.  It’s hard to say why they’ve fallen off; it could be their financial reporting — still sketchy at times — has made it hard to evaluate their revenue claims. 

Still, eight Russian companies in the Top 100 is a long way from 1999 when only Rosvooruzheniye (remember it?) made the list.

The Russian firms in the Top 100 are strong weapons and military equipment exporters, but the lesson for them from abroad seems to be that greater diversification and more civilian business makes a defense company more profitable.

Fifth Generation Fighter Update

On 26 April, ITAR-TASS reported what is now termed the ‘second phase’ engine for the fifth generation fighter could be ready in 5-6 years, according to NPO Saturn’s managing director Ilya Fedorov.  In his words:

“The RDT&E on the components for making the engine is now being conducted.  It is going on not just at Saturn.  Salyut and the Petersburg Factory named for Klimov are also conducting scientific-research work.”

Fedorov seemed confident the ‘second phase’ fifth generation engine could fly in 5-6 years, depending mostly on what decision the Defense Ministry makes.

Obviously, Saturn wants and needs the work now.

Sukhoy says the fifth generation fighter’s first test phase, consisting of six flights, was successfully completed.  The aircraft’s reliability and controls, engine operation, and other basic systems were tested at a range of speeds and altitudes.

ITAR-TASS reminds that engine signature reduction measures are supposed to provide the new fighter an unprecedentedly low level of radar, optical, and infrared detectability, allowing the plane to raise significantly its combat effectiveness against air and ground targets.

Recall that Saturn put its 117 or 117S engine–a modernized AL-31F like on the Su-35–on PAK FA as its ‘first phase’ engine.  Everything else is up for debate.  As previously written, the Defense Ministry could decide to forego a truly new engine for a while. 

Meanwhile, talk about future fighter engine work isn’t really helping sort out the competition between ODK/Saturn and Salyut, or the general shakeout in a Russian industry with many players and interested parties.

Early last month Sukhoy General Director Mikhail Pogosyan said the PAK FA would be commissioned with ‘first phase’ engines, and ‘second phase’ ones would require another 10-12 years of development.  He doesn’t sound like a fan of new engines, and obviously wants to get his airframes on the assembly line and out the factory doors.

Specifically, Pogosyan said:

“We need to determine how much financing there will be for the phase two engines, how many of them there will be, and many other issues need to be resolved.”

5th Generation Engine Delayed?

Work at NPO Saturn

Marker.ru yesterday wrote about NPO Saturn, FGUP Salyut, OAK, ODK, the Defense Ministry, and development of a fifth generation engine for Russia’s fighter aircraft.

Salyut believes it has basically defeated Saturn in the Defense Ministry’s tender to produce a fifth generation engine for the PAK FA, but Salyut fears development will be given instead to the newly created ODK, the United Engine-building Corporation.

Meanwhile, in OAK–the United Aircraft-building Corporation, they think the Defense Ministry may be considering not making a new engine for the first PAK FA model, and instead concentrating engineering resources on development of a 5th generation engine for future modifications of the new fighter. 

Salyut believes it decisively beat Saturn in the tender’s first phase, but the Defense Ministry has not announced the second and conclusive phase possibly because, according to Salyut’s Dmitriy Yeliseyev, the issue of creating the fifth generation engine was automatically decided when Saturn joined ODK.  But Salyut will insist on completing the tender process to decide who will be lead designer for the 5th generation fighter’s engines.

Yeliseyev says:

“We understand that general direction of the work to create an engine for PAK FA will be under ODK, but we also believe the tender is needed to even decide who will develop the gas generator for the future engine, and basically decide who will drive work on the engine for PAK FA.”

Salyut is now focused on modernizing the fourth generation AL-31 engine.  But test models of PAK FA have Saturn’s 117 engine, a modification of the AL-31.

OAK representative Konstantin Lantratov says the fifth generation engine has fundamentally new requirements, particularly in the areas of radar and infrared signature reduction.  OAK believes the Defense Ministry is not announcing the conclusive phase of the tender to build PAK FA’s engines because it’s waiting for the aircraft’s test results with its current engines.

Marker.ru asks is it necessary to make a 5th generation engine right now?  Wouldn’t it be better to concentrate work on producing engines for aircraft that will follow the PAK FA?  If a new engine starts development today, it will be ready in 5-7 years, about the time modernized or other variants of the PAK FA will be appearing [of course, this assumes the original PAK FA is successful and operational pretty quickly].

OAK’s Lantratov seems to think the Defense Ministry should decide now, if it wants to pay for new engines, and is willing to risk paying and not getting the right results.

Marker.ru consults CAST’s Konstantin Makiyenko . . . he thinks the Defense Ministry has no reason to hurry.  ‘Deeply modernized’ fourth generation engines from Saturn and Salyut are meeting VVS and PAK FA requirements, at least during the test phase.

He thinks a real 5th generation engine is 10 years away.  The need for more powerful engines will arise as other variants (2-seat, strike, naval, etc.) of the PAK FA appear.  Over their life cycles, aircraft get heavier and thrust has to keep pace, so more powerful engines would need to appear around 2020 anyway.