Perspective aviation the long-range aviation complex (PAK DA), designed to replace the long-range Tu-22M3 and strategic Tu-160 and Tu-95MS, was the victim of departmental ambitions and backroom fighting. Not having time to make his first flight, he changed his “parents”, moving from the Design Bureau Tupolev to the department of the United Aircraft Corporation.
First about the plans to create the newest bomber reported in 2008-m, Colonel-General Alexander Zelin, then commander-in-chief of the Russian Air Force. True, he did not specify which design bureau would lead the project. The following year, the management of the Tupolev design bureau at the MAKS air show announced the conclusion of a contract with the Ministry of Defense for research work on a project called PAK DA. At the beginning of last year, it became known that the new aircraft would be a subsonic "flying wing", something like the American Spirit B-2 bomber.
In February of this year, Director of the Aviation Industry Department of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, Andrei Boginsky, said that the Defense Ministry finally signed a contract with the Tupolev Design Bureau to develop a promising long-range aviation complex. According to the director, the financing of the project was begun in 2013 and the bomber was included in the State Weapon Program for the 2016 – 2025 years.
But in the design bureau itself, the newspaper “Military-Industrial Courier” explained that the money arrived only at the end of last year. Due to funding delays, in the spring of 2013, developers were not able to order the design of ejection seats, rescue equipment and equipment for the crew for the Zvezda scientific and production enterprise. The bureau’s staff does not quite understand the situation with the Tupolev itself, since, according to some sources, the design bureau is subject to a quick re-formation: it will leave Moscow by summer and will move to Tatarstan. There, on the basis of the Kazan Aviation Production Association named after S. P. Gorbunov, the basis of a new joint design bureau, the engineering and technology center, will be deployed to which Tupolev design bureau will flow. In connection with administrative shaking up, the fate of a strategic bomber, on which the Air Force has high hopes, is now lost in the fog.
A lot of controversy among specialists caused the decision to create not a supersonic, but a subsonic machine according to the “flying wing” scheme. The designers explained this with such considerations. Since PAK DA should replace not only the strategic Tu-160 and Tu-95, but also the long-range Tu-22М3, that is, almost all of the air strike power of Russia, the new complex needs at least minimally correspond to the flight characteristics, including the Tu-22.
“It is easier for a subsonic airplane to provide a longer range and a patrol time. It is no secret that the Tu-95 is held in the air much longer than the supersonic Tu-160. The fleet of refueling aircraft of the Air Force is not large enough, and Russia does not have overseas bases. Therefore, not speed, but the flight range and the mass of aircraft being carried, are of paramount importance, ”Anton Lavrov, an independent military expert, one of the authors of the book The New Army of Russia, told Military Military Industrial Courier.
He noted that now the flight range of aircraft-based cruise missiles reaches three to five thousand kilometers, and strategic bombers no longer need to break through the enemy’s air defense system in order to hit targets. At the same time, the idea to make PAK DA more speedy was supported by Defense Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. In the spring of last year, he said that the plane may even be hypersonic. His statements were not inspired by specialists.
“Work on the project began as early as 1995, when the Air Force ordered a number of research projects to the military institute, TsAGI and Tupolev Design Bureau. On the part of the Air Force Design Bureau, three versions of the vehicle were proposed, including one developed by the creator of the Tu-160, Valentin Bliznyuk. He proposed a multi-mode aircraft of relatively low mass, but at the same time maintaining the strategic flight range. However, TsAGI supported the subsonic option, since according to the calculations of this institute, this option seemed to be the most optimal, ”the engineer-aircraft manufacturer, a participant in the works, told the VPC weekly.
According to him, in 2003, the Tupolev Design Bureau completed research work and was ready to defend an advance project, but because of the cessation of funding by the Ministry of Defense, the development of PAK DA was interrupted. It was continued only in 2008 year after the resumption of funding and the holding of a corresponding competition, which won Tupolev's design bureau.
“As a result, the defense took place in 2012, and a year later a contract was signed to conduct development work. But for some reason, not from the Tupolev Design Bureau, which received a positive opinion on the advance project, but from the UAC, ”the aircraft engineer told the Military Industrial Courier. Now the design bureau, which has just begun to prepare the draft design of the PAK DA, has actually been removed from the work.
“At the end of last year, about nine billion rubles were allocated to a promising aviation complex, but only one billion reached the design bureau. The remaining money remained in the jab. In January, the UAC leadership at the meeting announced the creation of a new department within the corporation structure headed by the first deputy general director of Tupolev, Sergei Bogatikov, who will conduct all the work. UAC management decided to involve in the design of the PAK DA aircraft manufacturers from the corporation "Irkut". “Tupolev” will only perform ancillary work, transferring all the documentation to the new department, ”a CB representative familiar with the situation shared with the MIC on condition of anonymity.
The source also explained that all cooperation on the new machine will be organized only within the framework of enterprises incorporated in the United Aircraft Building Corporation, with minimal involvement of third-party co-executives.
“Of course, the decision to take the development of the PAK DA from Tupolev and give it to the UAC cooperative, Irkut, is unprecedented for the aircraft industry. But the leadership of the UAC can be understood. Now the “Irkutsk people” are working on the Yak-242 aircraft (aka MS-21), which should fly on the “black” wing, ”a high-ranking representative of the aviation industry informed“ VPK ”. “Black” is the slang name of a wing adopted from aircraft manufacturers, built from composite carbon-fiber plastic elements, for which special fibers from coal sands can be used.
“So far, neither we nor foreign aircraft manufacturers have fully composite wings. In places of maximum load, duralumin constructions are used anyway, ”the newspaper's interlocutor noted. According to him, the first Yak-242 will still be with a wing of conventional alloys. With a composite, a promising passenger airliner, according to the plans of aircraft manufacturers, will take off no earlier than 2018.
“In the chosen PAK YA design, it is necessary to apply the“ black ”wing. Therefore, it will be easy for Irkut to simultaneously work on two machines, conducting the necessary research and gaining experience, ”he added. This decision is not agreed at the Tupolev Design Bureau. Since 50, the company has been a leading developer and creator of heavy and strategic bombers. The Tupolev monopoly was only briefly moved by the Vladimir Myasishchev 3M aircraft, and even the famous Sukhoi T-4 Sukhoi did not become a production machine.
“A unique team of“ strengths ”,“ aerodynamics ”and other specialists with experience in designing heavy bombers has developed in the design bureau. There is nothing like this in other KBs. To teach specialists to create an aviation complex in a couple of years will not work. If the Tupolev design bureau needs at least 8 – 10 years, then another design bureau is twice as long, if it works out at all, ”the aircraft engineer told his opinion.
According to the interlocutor, a ten-year failure in the financing of work can adversely affect the state of long-range aviation. It is important to have time to fill up the park before the cancellation of rapidly aging cars. Therefore, now we need not technically a breakthrough machine, but a simple and easy-to-manufacture aircraft.
“Unlike composite materials, aluminum alloys are well developed and studied. For example, condensate is often formed in honeycomb panels, which, when it freezes, leads to the destruction of the structure. Therefore, for a cheap and easy-to-manufacture bomber, the choice of materials with preservation of primary use in the construction of aluminum alloys will obviously be more justified, ”said a high-ranking source in the aviation industry.
But the troubles of the design bureau do not end there. According to several interlocutors familiar with the situation, 26 of March should have a meeting of shareholders of Tupolev OJSC, where a decision will be made to merge with the Kazan Aviation Production Association named after S. P. Gorbunov into a single scientific and technical structure. It is assumed that the engineering and technology center created from last year at KAPO will become the heart of the new organization, and the design bureau experts, having left the complex of buildings located on the Moscow Embankment named after Academician Tupolev, will move to Kazan.
“Even if we remain in place, new labor contracts will be signed with us. Many of my colleagues and, I confess, I myself fear that we will be left without work, ”an officer of the design bureau said to the Military Industrial Courier.
While the company management has not announced official plans for the reorganization of "Tupolev". Aviation experts consider the association of Tupolev and KAPO to be the right and timely step.
“According to the Tu-204 and Tu-214 Tupolev lineup, they did not create a production aircraft that the airlines liked. The last project, which could be implemented from scratch, was Tu-334, but it was never put into the “series”, independent aviation expert Sergei Starikov told VPK.
According to him, Red Wings airline, becoming the first customer of eight Tu-214, often faced problems in their operation.
“At Red Wings, when commissioning liners of this type, there were many complaints about the quality of the aircraft. Unfortunately, they were solved with difficulty. Kazan plant had no right to make changes to the design documentation. It was necessary to coordinate all the improvements with Tupolev, and then transfer to KAPO. The slightest question turned into a lengthy process of coordination, and every day a simple aircraft brought the airline losses, ”Starikov explained.
According to the expert, this situation has developed because of the rupture of ties between the design bureau and the plant.
“For example, the companies“ Sukhoi Civil Aircraft ”and“ Superjet ”do not face such problems, as they promptly correct the deficiencies identified by the airlines and users,” concluded Starikov.
Over the past five years, this is not the first merger of airlines and design offices into a single aviation-technical complex. In 2010, OAO Taganrog Aviation Scientific-Technical Complex named after G.M. Beriev was merged with OAO Taganrog Aviation (formerly Taganrog Aviation Plant named after G.M. Dimitrov). The process was helped by the fact that both enterprises are located in the same city.
“The Soviet aviation industry experience shows that one design bureau can work with several aircraft factories. And at the plant can be built at the same time planes of different companies. In the same Kazan, in the 60 – 80-s, supersonic Tu-22 and Tu-22М of all modifications were built in one workshop, and passenger long-haul IL-62 were assembled nearby. "Ilyushin" worked with the Kazan aircraft factory, and with the Tashkent, where they collected transport IL-76 ", - reminded the newspaper" Military-Industrial Courier "at one of the enterprises.
One can argue for a long time who is to blame for the situation that has developed with the development of a promising long-range aviation complex. The United Aircraft Corporation has its own reasons and reasons, and they seem at first glance reasonable and logical. On the other hand, the unique design bureau - the only developer of strategic and long-range bombers - was left without its “child” and was actually forced out of the project. Waiting for "Tupolev" and painful procedure of association. Even with the mildest variant of the development of events, the new scientific and technical complex, which united the Design Bureau of Tupolev and the Kazan Aviation Production Association named after S. P. Gorbunov, will not immediately be able to get into the work. One can only hope that the departmental games and the struggle for funding will not disrupt the PAK DA program, which is crucial for Russia's security.