PAK DA (Russia)
The perspective aviation complex of the long-range aviation (PAK DA) is one of the most important projects in the framework of the development of the Russian Air Force. According to reports, the aircraft created in the course of this program, in the future will be able to become the main long-range bomber of the domestic Air Force. Its characteristics will allow replacing all existing long-range bombers: Tu-95MS, Tu-22М3 and Tu-160. The main reason for this is the age of the existing technology: by the time of the start of mass production of the PAK DA bombers, some of the existing aircraft must have run out of resources and will have to be written off.
Determining the requirements for a promising strategic bomber for the Russian Air Force began in the late nineties, but then, for several reasons, this work was delayed. Requirements were formed only in the second half of the next decade. Approximately in 2007-2008, a competition was announced for the development of the PAK DA aircraft, which ended in 2009. The contract for the development of the bomber company was "Tupolev".
Since then, employees of OJSC Tupolev and related enterprises have carried out a lot of important work, the purpose of which was to create a preliminary project of a promising aircraft. At the end of last year, it was reported that a preliminary draft was agreed with the customer; in 2014, full-scale development work should begin. Thus, over the next few years, the enterprises of the United Aircraft Building Corporation will be able to begin construction of the first prototype of the new aircraft.
In early April, Jane's reported that at a recent briefing, UAC President M. Poghosyan spoke about the progress of the PAK DA project. As writes the foreign edition, the development of the project is completed. The PAK DA aircraft is already ready “on paper”, and in the near future, construction and testing of some units of the future bomber will begin. Other details remain unknown.
It is still difficult to speak about the exact timing of the completion of the PAK DA project. In recent years, officials have repeatedly called the approximate time of the beginning of a particular phase of the project, but later the stated dates were adjusted. For example, in the middle of the last decade, it was planned to build a prototype aircraft for the 2015 year and soon begin testing it. In 2011, the first flight was “transferred” to the 2020 year, and they were scheduled for adoption in the mid-twenties. At the very end of last year, the commander of long-range aviation, Lieutenant-General A. Zhikharev, said that tests of the new bomber should begin in the 2019 year, and by the 2025-th, deliveries of serial machines to the Air Force will begin.
The exact timing of the appearance of the PAK DA prototype aircraft, the commencement of its tests, or the delivery of mass-produced vehicles to the troops still raises some questions. For a number of reasons of a different nature, the dates may shift in any direction. The first flight of the bomber can take place both earlier and later called the 2019 of the year now. From the available information it follows that now the exact definition of terms is hampered only by the complexity of the design work. An important stage in shaping the aircraft's appearance has already been passed, and now the project developers are busy creating a project, in accordance with which a new technology will be built.
Unfortunately, the bulk of information about the technical appearance of the PAK DA aircraft is still hidden from the public, which contributes to the emergence of various versions and speculations. The announced official information about the requirements for a new aircraft is extremely scarce and allows only the most general conclusions to be made. For example, last summer, Air Force Commander Lieutenant-General V. Bondarev said that the PAK DA aircraft will be subsonic. At the same time he will be able to take on board a large combat load in comparison with the existing Tu-160 aircraft. A little later, the Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force announced that the PAK DA would be able to carry various weapons, including hypersonic missiles.
Statements about subsonic speed and long-range, as well as a large payload caused the assumption that the PAK DA aircraft will be built according to the “flying wing” scheme. Such a layout of the aircraft will provide an optimal combination of high flight data and a large amount of internal compartments. In addition, large internal volumes will make it possible to increase the amount of fuel and, as a result, the flight range.
The PAK DA bomber will have to replace several types of aircraft: Tu-95MS, Tu-22М3 and Tu-160. In addition, it is known that it will carry more payload than the Tu-160. From this it follows that a promising bomber will be able to take on board at least 30 tons of missile or bomb weapons of various types. Apparently, PAK DA will be able to use the entire range of weapons of existing long-range bombers, so that it can carry and use X-22 or X-55 missiles, as well as promising weapon, for example missiles X-101.
The number of planned to build aircraft PAK DA has not yet been determined. The appearance of such figures should be attributed to the next stages of the project, when the characteristics and combat capabilities of the new aircraft, as well as its cost, will be known. It cannot be ruled out that there are already approximate plans for this, but they have not yet been announced. Probably, the number of planned bombers will be announced in the second half of this decade. Based on the fact that the PAK DA is intended to replace the existing long-range bombers, it can be built in a series of at least several dozen units.
Since the middle of the last decade, the United States has been working on its own project of a promising strategic bomber. During this time, the military and aviation industry conducted a series of studies and identified some features of the appearance of the new aircraft. It is noteworthy that the program for developing a new long-range bomber changed its name several times. It started under the designation 2018 Bomber (“2018 Bomber of the Year”), then called NGB (Next-Generation Bomber - “Next Generation Bomber”), and is now known as LRS-B (Long-Range Strike Bomber - “Long Range Bomber Bomber”) .
The 2018 Bomber program was launched with the goal of creating a new strategic bomber capable of replacing the outdated B-52 and B-1. These aircraft are not fully satisfied with the military and therefore require replacement. The goal of the new project, as is clear from its name, was to create a bomber for 2018. Further events within the program showed that such plans were too bold. The time frame for the construction of the aircraft has shifted, and the project has received a new name - NGB.
One of the most important issues in the early stages of the 2018 Bomber / NGB project was the overall appearance of the bomber. Considered the prospects of several proposals. The aircraft could be pre-or supersonic, manned and unmanned versions, as well as other features of the project were considered and compared. As a result, it was decided to build a subsonic bomber with a cockpit. The use of unmanned technology, as well as the creation of a supersonic aircraft, considered impractical. In the future, all requirements for the NGB bomber were formed in accordance with a specific concept.
Even during the use of the name 2018 Bomber, there were suggestions regarding the methods of operation of a promising aircraft. He was supposed to be able to fly long distances, as well as patrol in remote areas. To do this, the plane must be built using the so-called. stealth technology, as well as the use of a set of electronic equipment, allowing him to obtain the necessary data and quickly perform the tasks.
In recent years, the Pentagon has been forced to work under conditions of constant cuts in the military budget, which is why it has to freeze already started projects, as well as postpone the implementation of the planned ones. One of these “unlucky” projects was 2018 Bomber / NGB / LRS-B. Over the past few years, the military and Congress have argued about the need for such development, its features and cost. As a result, the development of the aircraft has not yet begun.
Requirements for the new LRS-B aircraft are constantly being adjusted, but their common features have remained unchanged in recent years. For example, at the beginning of 2011, it was believed that the total cost of the LRS-B program should not exceed 40-50 billions of dollars. For this money, the plan was to acquire 175 aircraft: 10 squadrons for 12 bombers, as well as 55 training and reserve aircraft. It was assumed that to compensate for the increase in the cost of the program, the number of planned aircraft could be reduced at the expense of the reserve.
Aircraft LRS-B, it was decided to do subsonic. Flight range without refueling asked no less than 5000 miles (more than 9200 kilometers). An in-flight refueling system is required, designed to increase range. The combat load of the aircraft should not exceed 28 thousand pounds (about 12,7 tons). It was proposed to include in the nomenclature of used ammunition all existing and prospective guided and unguided types of missile-bomb armament. It was necessary to foresee the possibility of using nuclear ammunition.
The LRS-B bomber must be able to perform combat missions in all conditions and all weather conditions. In addition, it is necessary to ensure the survival of the aircraft when performing combat missions over the territory of the enemy, in the zone of action of its air defense. To do this, the design of the bomber must be done using stealth technology, and the composition of the onboard equipment must include modern electronic warfare systems with high performance.
The LRS-B aircraft was supposed to be equipped with the most modern radio-electronic equipment, allowing to monitor the situation and exchange tactical information with the base and other aircraft. In the future, it was proposed to create an appropriate set of equipment and make an unmanned aircraft based on the LRS-B. Such a version of the bomber, as expected, could have a greater combat potential in comparison with the manned base.
At the end of February 2014, the Air Force Command announced new plans for promising strategic bombers. Now it is assumed that the new aircraft will be ready for mass production in the first half of the twenties. In the middle of the next decade, the US Air Force will receive the first mass-produced cars of the new model. For the time being, it is expected to purchase from the 80 to 100 LRS-B aircraft Their exact number will be determined only after the development of the project and the formation of the final cost of the aircraft.
In the autumn of this year, it is planned to issue a request for proposals for the LRS-B program. This document will be the first step to the competition and the choice of the developer of a promising bomber. It is assumed that the company Northrop Grumman and the alliance of firms Boeing and Lockheed Martin will take part in the competition. Time will tell who exactly will be the lead developer of the LRS-B bomber.
The course of the two projects aimed at developing strategic aviation in the United States and Russia is noticeably different, although it has some common features. Countries are not the first year engaged in the creation of new long-range bombers and are already making plans for the completion of the work. In this case, it is impossible not to note the stages at which there are now two projects. The Russian program PAK DA has entered the stage of basic development work, while the American project LRS-B has still not reached the competitive stage. Despite this, both bomber must first take to the air at about the same time - no earlier than the end of the current decade. Delivery of aircraft to the troops is scheduled to begin in the mid-twenties.
In both projects, it is supposed to apply a lot of new ideas and technical solutions that will help the promising aircraft to obtain high performance. The military of the two countries have their own views on the appearance of the distant bomber of the near future, because of which the aircraft will be significantly different. What these differences will be, as well as what promising strategic bombers will look like, is not completely clear. Their similarities and differences can be discussed only in a few years, when project materials will be shown to the general public.
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