The model of the aircraft type "flying wing" in the wind tunnel. According to some versions, it was related to the PAK DA project. Photo TsAGI / tsagi.ru
Since 2009, PJSC Tupolev and other industry enterprises have been working on the “Long-range Aviation Complex aviation"(PAK YES). To date, design work has been completed, and the program is moving on to a new stage. Now the main task of its participants is the construction of an experienced bomber for testing.
Not so long ago, at the beginning of last year, the final shape of the future PAK DA was approved. Domestic media then claimed that the documents necessary for the construction of experimental equipment had already appeared. In December, Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko spoke about the readiness of the preliminary design, the beginning of a new phase of work, as well as about the launch of the production of individual units of the experienced PAK DA.
On May 26, the TASS news agency announced the launch of the construction of an experimental aircraft. Information about this was obtained from two unnamed sources in the defense industry. According to one of the sources, by now the development of working design documentation has been completed; it has already been transferred to production.
One of the aircraft factories of the United Aircraft Corporation receives the necessary materials and now has to start manufacturing glider elements. The second source of TASS spoke about the beginning of the assembly of the cabin. He also noted that the prototype of the bomber will be completed in 2021.
A modern version of the possible look of PAK YES. Graphics Air-cosmos.com
The United Aircraft Corporation, Tupolev, or the Ministry of Defense have not officially announced the launch of the PAK DA construction. Perhaps press releases of this kind will appear later.
To date, the planned deadlines for the implementation of the main stages of the PAK DA program have become known. In January, Izvestia gained access to one of the contracts between the Ministry of Defense and PJSC Tupolev, stipulating the creation of rescue equipment for the new bomber. This document refers to the timing of the various activities.
From the contract it follows that for the flight tests will build three experienced bombers. Preliminary tests of both all systems and aircraft as a whole will begin in 2023 and will last until 2025. At the beginning of 2026, state tests will start. Upon their successful completion, already in 2027 the launch of mass production may take place.
In parallel with the construction of experimental equipment, individual elements will be tested. In particular, work is continuing on a promising engine for PAK DA. This year it is planned to start testing the product at the stand, and then to raise it into the air with the help of a flying laboratory based on the Il-76 aircraft. Accurate information about the development of other on-board systems and assemblies is not yet available.
In recent years there have been fragmentary reports of various technical features of the future PAK DA. All this allows us to imagine the appearance of the aircraft, although without special details. The future role of such equipment in the troops is also known.
Another assumption. Graphics Rg.ru
It is reported that PAK DA will be a subsonic subtle bomber-bomber, built according to the "flying wing". This design allows you to get some increase in performance in comparison with existing samples of long-range aviation. For example, the maximum flight duration should exceed 30 hours, and the range without refueling will reach 15 thousand km.
According to various estimates, in terms of design, the PAK DA is fundamentally different from the existing long-range bombers. Modern and perspective materials and manufacturing technologies are used.
Especially for PAK DA, a new turbojet engine is being developed. The development of such a product has been conducted by the United Engine Corporation since 2018. This engine will have to provide a long flight with high subsonic speed. Maximum traction - 23 tf. According to different versions, due to the significant take-off mass, the bomber will receive four of these engines.
The crew of PAK DA includes four people. Probably, it will include two pilots, a navigator-operator and a navigator-navigator, as on the serial Tu-160. According to recent reports, 12 catapult seats were ordered for the construction of three prototype aircraft.
PAK DA must carry promising avionics with open architecture. This will provide the necessary characteristics, as well as simplify further upgrades. The press reports on the unification of PAK DA, Tu-22M3M and Tu-160M2 equipment. It also mentions the possible use of a complex set of viewing systems that provides surveillance of the entire surrounding space.
The available information about the armament of the aircraft is very interesting, but does not give any specifics. Officials mentioned compatibility with existing and promising strategic aviation weapons. In terms of combat load, it will surpass the Tu-160. It is possible to expand the range of ammunition at the expense of self-defense means - air-to-air missiles.
The same model, view from a different angle. Graphics Rg.ru
There are bolder assumptions. In near aviation circles, PAK DA "in the long term" expects electromagnetic, laser and other weapon on new principles. How likely this development is and whether such systems are needed by a long-range bomber is a separate question.
Reserve for the future
Obviously, the PAK DA project is being created with an eye on the next few decades. Serial construction of aircraft of this type will begin only in 2027, and the first squadrons will be able to form only by the beginning of the thirties. Due to the limited pace of production, PAK DA will initially only be an addition to the existing technology of various types.
However, the continuation of mass production will increase their share and gradually modernize the entire fleet of long-range aviation. It is assumed that in the first years of service, the PAK DA will be able to replace the aging Tu-95MS aircraft, similar in flight performance. Also, PAK DA will be able to take on part of the tasks of the Tu-22M3 and Tu-160 bombers. And only in a later period is the restructuring of long-range aviation possible, during which the PAK DA will acquire a leading role.
Given the timing of the start of service, it can be assumed that the PAK DA will remain in service, at least until the turn of the fifties and sixties. By this time, modern designs will go out of service, and new developments will replace them. The media and specialized resources are already discussing issues of further development of strategic missile carriers - so far, however, at the level of the most general considerations.
From the beginning of research work to the start of construction of the experimental PAK DA, a little more than 10 years have passed - a perfectly normal time for a project of such complexity. The construction started will take less than two years, after which the ground and flight tests will start. Four more years are allotted for verification and refinement. If the project does not encounter unexpected difficulties, mass production will be able to begin in 2027.
Thus, the Tupolev company and the aircraft industry as a whole have already done quite a lot to create a promising aircraft and future renewal of long-range aviation. However, no less needs to be done to make the existing project turn into finished equipment, ready for operation and service.
The project is actually halfway through, and now two issues are of most interest. The first is whether it will be possible to complete all the planned work on time? And the second, more interesting for the public, when will the exact appearance of PAK YES become known not only to a limited circle of people with appropriate tolerances?