PAK DA engines to be tested this year

According to the information released by ´Rostec´ state corporation, the tests of engines for the new Russian long-range strategic bomber system PAK DA will start at the end of 2020.

The engines will be mounted at the Ilyushin Il-76LL test-bed aircraft (´LL´ stands for Летающая лаборатория – ´flying laboratory´) and the contract of value more than 900 million rubles has been already signed. The scope of this agreement includes the flying and ground tests of the new engine, which should begin at the end of this year and be finalized in 2021.

The initial design and performance requirements of the new Russian strategic bomber were approved by the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation in the middle of 2019. PAK DA development is led by Tupolev Design Bureau, in cooperation with other companies from the aviation and military industry.

Il-76LL, test-bed aircraft, MAKS-2017

PAK DA – an abbreviation from Перспективный авиационный комплекс дальней авиации, ´perspective long-range aviation complex´, is a project of the new generation strategic bomber. The first official releases about the programme are dated 2007, but a few rumours were spread even earlier. The first flight is expected to be performed in 2027 and the prototypes should be evaluated in 2028-2029.

The details of the PAK DA project were not released yet, however, as Russian media reported, the new engines must be able to operate in air temperature range from minus 60 to plus 50 degrees Celsius and survive certain damage factors of a nuclear explosion. Most probably, the new generation bomber will be designed in a ´flying wing´ configuration and with implementation of ´stealth´ technology. The new Russian long-range aircraft is reported to be subsonic, with the flight endurance of at least 30 hours and having bigger useful weapon load than Tu-160. Its armament should include the newly developed hypersonic missiles.

PAK DA programme was initially intended to result in the aircraft able to replace the existing fleet of Tu-160, Tu-95 and Tu-22M3 long-range bombers. However, the Russian MoD recently started a few modernization projects of the existing long-range aircraft fleet, including the upgrading of all Tu-160 bombers to new Tu-160M2 standard until 2023.

In the same year, the first newly manufactured ´White Swans´ should also leave the factory, as a part of the order from January 2018, for ten new Tu-160s to be delivered until 2027. According to the MoD releases from 2018, the goal was to create a fleet of 50 modernized and newly produced Tu-160 and that means, they are not expected to be replaced by PAK DA in the next three or four decades.

Tupolev Tu-160 ´White Swan´ long-range strategic bomber, MAKS-2017