(Image courtesy: Safran)

Safran and MTU Aero Engines to co-develop engine for sixth-generation FCAS fighter

A new sixth-generation engine for a new sixth-generation fighter aircraft
Paris-based Safran SA and Munich-based MTU Aero Engines AG will partner to develop, produce, and support a new turbofan engine for “New Generation Fighter” (NGF) aircraft being developed by Airbus SE and Dassault Aviation SA. The NGF is a manned, sixth-generation fighter and a component of the future Franco-German Future Combat Air System (FCAS) architecture.

Set to enter service by 2040, the twin-enigne NGF will have a low-profile airframe to reduce its radar signature and will cooperate with cloud-linked unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or “remote carrier” wingmen as the human operated component of FCAS’s Next-Generation Weapon System (NGWS). The NGF will complement and potentially replace France’s Dassault Rafale and Germany’s Eurofighter Typhoon fourth-generation fighter aircraft.

(Image courtesy: Dassault Aviation)

Learn more: Airbus and Dassault Aviation will start development of the “New Generation Fighter” for European FCAS program

In the partnership, Safran Aircraft Engines will direct engine design and integration, while MTU Aero Engines leads engine services and delivers the low- and high-pressure compressors and the low-pressure turbine. Safran will be responsible for combustor, high-pressure turbine, and afterburner.

Aerospace Embedded Solutions (AES) – an existing, fifty-fifty joint venture between MTU Aero Engines and Safran Electronics & Defense – will direct engine control hardware and software development under the responsibility and the lead Safran Aircraft Engines.

(Image courtesy: Christel Sasso/CAPA Pictures/Safran)

“By teaming up with MTU Aero Engines, we will combine our respective areas of expertise according to the “best athlete” principle, while also generating strong synergies to foster innovation,” says Olivier Andriès, CEO of Safran Aircraft Engines. “Safran has proven its ability to fully develop, produce and support military aircraft engines over the last six decades.”

The partnership, announced in witness of French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, and her German counterpart, Ursula von der Leyen, is designed to balance France and Germany’s industry program share and funding.

“This program represents a milestone for European sovereignty in military engine technology,” says Reiner Winkler, CEO of MTU Aero Engines. “Safran Aircraft Engines and MTU Aero Engines are natural partners for this French-German collaboration. Both companies have specific experience in developing fighter engines, along with a history of partnership reaching back over 50 years.”

“Along with Safran Aircraft Engines, and based on our technological know-how, we feel that we are fully capable of delivering a state-of-the-art propulsion system. The key to success will be starting a technology and demonstrator program by mid-year,” adds Michael Schreyögg, chief program officer of MTU Aero Engines.

The NGF engine partnership coincides with the inauguration of Safran’s new research center for advanced turbine blades at the company’s plant in Gennevilliers, France. The center will carry out development work needed for next-generation very-high-performance turbine blades using innovative technologies such as multidisciplinary design, single-crystal casting, 3D-printed ceramic cores, thermal coatings, cooling circuits, digitized processes, self-adapting micro-drilling, and non-destructive testing based on artificial intelligence.

The center will integrate new technologies into current Dassault Rafale engines in order to improve aircraft dispatch reliability and reduce through-life maintenance and production costs, but also to validate the technologies for use on the future high-performance engine for the FCAS program.

Airbus and Dassault Aviation intend to prepare and debut an NGF demonstrator program at the Paris Air Show in June 2019.

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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.

Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at william.kucinski@sae.org.
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