Helicopters: past, present, future



Problems of the helicopter fleet of Russia


After the next fall of the Mi-24 in Primorye, the question of the extremely critical condition of the entire helicopter fleet of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation was raised again. Aging machines and the lack of modern equipment on board the helicopter during intensive operation sooner or later leads to a plane crash. However, the state defense order program provides for a complete renewal of the helicopter fleet. It remains only to hope that this will happen soon.

What the coming day prepares for us

At the end of the collapse of the USSR (1991), the Ministry of Defense of the Soviet Union had more than 5000 helicopters. Most of these vehicles went to the Russian Armed Forces, which currently include about 1500 helicopters of all classes. For more than one and a half decades, the helicopter fleet has not been updated, which led to a sharp reduction in vehicles. Of course, a number of new machines were adopted, including the combat Ka-50. But it was a purely nominal step, since new models did not enter into mass production, despite the fact that the need for rotary-wing machines did not decrease. After all, the army was still faced with the task of repelling a possible aggression, and, on the territory of the former Union, one after another, armed conflicts often arose with the participation of Russia itself. In addition, the helicopter, and now remains one of the strategically important military vehicles. This car was found everywhere work: from the Moscow military units and up to Kamchatka.

But despite this, the Russian production of helicopters, due to the lack of adequate funding, continued to decline, so at the end of the 90's no more than 40 units were produced per year, of which only a small fraction was intended for the army. And about the modernization of the equipment of helicopters for this period almost forgotten. The remaining "livestock" had to be maintained in technical order only thanks to the titanic efforts of the technical personnel, often and at the expense of the details of the completely failed military equipment.

The transfer of military aviation from the Ground Forces, where it was the first in importance, in the air defense and air force, only aggravated the situation, as the combined air defense and air force continued to focus primarily on maintaining their own traditional equipment, anti-aircraft missile systems, in good condition. and aircraft.

According to the Defense Ministry, this organizational issue should be resolved through military reform, which will transfer all units of army aviation to the commanders of military districts. Of course, the consequences of this step cause additional disputes, the discussion of which will be enough for more than a dozen articles. But let's get back to the issue of replacing outdated helicopters with new technology.

The delivery of the newest helicopters to military units began only in the second half of the “zero” years. Thus, over the period of 2007-2009, the Ministry of Defense received about 70 units, and in 2010, the production rate increased, and the military already received new helicopters 59. In 2011, it is planned that the number of machines supplied will exceed one hundred. This will happen for the first time since 1991. In total, under the contracts concluded, the total number of helicopters received by the end of the 2015 year of the Ministry of Defense should be 450 machines. But this number is likely to increase, since at the moment a few more contracts are in the process of signing.

In total, according to the current Ministry of Defense HPV-2020, it plans to update the helicopter fleet by 80%, which is more than 1200 machines. The complete replacement of outdated equipment can be predicted already at the beginning of the 20-s. After that, the military department will only have to maintain it in proper condition and update it in a timely manner. What will be the real content of the helicopter fleet?

Kamov and Miles: Who will win?

Back in mid-June, the first helicopter took off in the 1982 of the year. Ka-50,

who at that time wore the code index B-80, and literally less than six months later went to conquer the heavenly spaces and Mi-28.

The competition between these promising machines of Mil and Kamov Design Bureau began in December of 1976, from the very moment when the decision of the Council of Ministers of the USSR and the CPSU Central Committee was launched to begin work on a new combat helicopter project, which will later replace the recently launched Mi-24.



Both helicopters had excellent technical characteristics, so the choice was coming hard. In October, 1983, the agenda of the meeting between the Ministry of Defense and representatives of the aviation industry was one question - to compare and choose a combat vehicle from B-80 and Mi-28. Most of those present liked the B-80, as its price-performance ratio and flight performance exceeded the Mi-28. Comparative tests that were conducted during 1984 of the year also showed that B-80 is superior to Mi-28, therefore, already in October 1984, the Minister of Aviation Industry signed an order on the preparation of its mass production.

Unfortunately the designers of the Kamov Design Bureau, the execution of the order was delayed for some time. The reason for this was the fact that the newest helicopter with its “main caliber” - ATVM “Whirlwind” - turned out to be a very complex product, which took a long time to master. The Mil Design Bureau did not lose time and eliminated all the shortcomings of its prototype Mi-28, thus creating a new model, the Mi-1988А, in 28. But it so happened that not one of these promising combat vehicles got into mass production before 1991, and the collapse of the USSR left both projects in “suspended” condition.

Meanwhile, the designers did not leave work on their offspring, continuously improving them, so they appeared Ka-52

и Mi28Н,

which it was decided to launch into mass production. However, the purpose of these combat vehicles will be different. The Mi-28 should completely replace the veterans of aviation in combat units, and the Ka-52 will be sent to special mission units, and in addition, it will be a deck helicopter as part of the Russian Navy. Such a truly “Solomon solution” will allow maximum use of the advantages of both helicopters. The main advantage of the Mi-28 (except for powerful armor) is its continuity with its predecessor, the Mi-24, which facilitates the retraining and training of new personnel. Agree that this quality is simply necessary for the main army helicopter. Ka-52 is equipped with more modern equipment, has better flight performance and less noise. It was originally planned that the Defense Ministry would acquire from 200 to 300 the Mi-28 and 100 Ka-52, but in connection with the conclusion of a contract for the construction of the Navy of the Russian Federation and the choice of Ka-52 as a strike deck helicopter orders for this combat The machine may increase to 200.

In addition to these two combat vehicles, the Mi-24 and their deeply modernized followers will remain in the Russian military helicopter fleet. Mi-35.

Considering the current GVV-2020, by the end of 2020, the Russian army will have over 500 units of this military equipment.

The word "modern" can cause a skeptical smile. After all, how can one call modern what was designed back in the 70s? But judging by the world experience - it is possible. For example, the famous European helicopter "Tiger". Its creation took place in the 1973 year, the prototype took off in the 1991 year, and went into mass production only in the middle of the "zero".

It should be noted that today the main task in the helicopter industry is to increase the speed of flight. The solution of this problem is engaged in almost all countries where the aviation industry is developed (special attention is paid to this issue in the USA). In order to find the right solution, you need to minimize the harmful resistance and increase the capacity of the rotor. To reduce the resistance of the fuselages of helicopters in the projects of the designers are becoming more sophisticated aerodynamic forms, in some projects even consider the option of using retractable landing gear. Most of the latest helicopter rotors have improved geometric shapes than their predecessors. Foreign military designers assume that the speed of the 400km / h helicopter will be reached in the near future. This is facilitated by the emergence of new materials and new technology for the production of screws. During the last decade, the interests of specialists have smoothly shifted towards the development of a reactive rotor. Prototypes have already been manufactured in the United States, Germany and other Western countries. The reactive propeller propeller is started with a rectilinear jet of gases that passes through the slots located at the rear edge in the last third of each blade. It is believed that an increase in speed and improvement of the technical characteristics of a helicopter can be achieved as a result of the “stopping” of the rotor during flight. Landing and Takeoff of such a unit will be carried out like a helicopter, and the flight itself will occur like an airplane. Thus, for example, in one of the developed projects, the carrying “locking” screw turns only during “take-off” and “landing” under the influence of jet thrust, which is obtained by nozzles at the ends of the blades, and during flight it stops and performs even the role of a small wing.

Exhaust gases of a jet engine with the help of valves are sent to the tail nozzle, where they will create thrust for translational motion. At the same time, the screw is removed when moving horizontally at a speed of 150-250 km / h. However, when testing these ultramodern constructions, it was found that when the propeller stopped in flight and was subsequently removed, there were moments of helicopter tipping. This is due to unequal loads on the propeller blades. Being engaged in solving the arisen task, the English designers created a rigid screw, in which the hollow blades have a circular cross section, providing increased rigidity.

The design of such a rotor reduces its sensitivity to wind gusts and eliminates overturning moments. Also, its advantage over the others is that it can be stopped in flight, while not removing it into the fuselage. Studies of this model rotor confirmed the possibility of creating a new cost-effective aircraft with low noise and vertical landing and takeoff. Also in the newest designs of a helicopter with a wing, its speed increases, its maneuverability and stability improves.

Such schemes are already being implemented. The most reliable of them is the scheme of the rotorcraft, which not only has a wing, but also an additional engine, which it needs to create additional horizontal thrust. During the test of a rotary-wing the record flight speed was achieved - 480 km / h. The task of increasing the speed of a helicopter can be an increase in engine power, as well as an improvement in its design. As a result of experiments to increase the payload, a solution was found to create a helicopter with a payload from 20 to 100 tons. Since 1970, some US companies have been developing a helicopter with a payload of 50 tons. It is known that now designers from different countries are working on the development of a helicopter with a payload of 100 tons. To enhance flight safety on helicopters with such a carrying capacity, two engines will most likely be installed.

In connection with the growth in military demand for helicopters, which have to solve more and more tasks, the requirements for helicopter onboard equipment have recently increased. This equipment is constantly being improved due to new applied principles of the structure of installations, subsystems and parts, as well as through the use of the latest technologies. Lasers are increasingly used, radar antennas are being improved, thanks to which the performance of navigation devices is improved. For example, the weight of navigation devices in 1965 g was 125 kg, and the use of transistors reduces the weight of reduced navigation devices to 17 kg.

The cost of the entire electronic equipment of a modern military helicopter is 15% of the total cost. And this is not the limit, since in the near future electronics will “drag out” almost 40% of the total cost. Stepped forward and materials used in the construction of the fuselage. Now more and more often in the helicopter industry, titanium is used for them, and for minor structures - fiberglass. Designers are working on the creation of single helicopters. Prototypes have already proven their right to life as a combat vehicle.

Thus, an experimental single helicopter was built in Germany. Its net weight is 152 kg, the boundary weight during takeoff is 270 kg, the climb rate is 4,5м / sec, the maximum developed speed is 130 km / h, the cruising speed is 105 km / h, the practical ceiling is 4100 m, the distance to 40 l of fuel is 2130 km. There are also unmanned cargo helicopters created for the transfer of material values. So you can safely risk it when you need to fight it. And with it you can overcome difficult terrain. Military units possessing special helicopters will be able to instantly react, based on the situation, that is, to concentrate or disperse forces, help infantry to overcome bridges, etc. Some German theorists have voiced the possibility of creating parts of armored fighter helicopters, armored combat helicopters, transport helicopters for landing motorized infantry that can fight in combat also from helicopters. Of course, such a military unit should have, on a par with the firepower, maximum maneuverability in order to carry out their tasks in the conduct of independent combat operations. The creation of such units could be a signal of the beginning of the transition from infantry military units to airmobile.

Given the above, could the re-equipment of the helicopter fleet of the Russian army occur earlier? Of course yes. Starting mass production of the updated Mi-35 and shipping at least 20 helicopters a year to the ranks of the Russian Air Force may have been at the very beginning of the “zero”, but most likely, this would lead to the fact that the Mi-28 would never hit the series.

Sea and transport helicopters remain the same

If in the ranks of the armed forces there were a whole two promising projects, then with civil aviation everything remains the same, that is, the average Mi-8

and heavy Mi-26

they will replace, but only strongly modernized, with the latest equipment and new engines. And this will not be done for reasons of economy, not at all. Just today, the aviation industry can not yet provide them with an alternative. In general, the planned volume of purchases of these vehicles is not known for certain, but, based on some data, it can be assumed that Mi-8 will acquire about 500 machines, and Mi-26 about 40 machines.

The same trend is seen with sea helicopters. In the coming years Ka-27

and his modernized "brothers" will still play the role of the first (and only) violin. The chief designer of the design bureau, Kamov, Sergey Mikheyev, at a naval cabin in St. Petersburg, said this: “Naval aviation is in a difficult position today. It has not been funded for nearly 20 years. Until the end of the 80-x we managed to re-equip the fleet aircraft on the Ka-27 and its modifications. Then KB created a civilian version of the Ka-27 - Ka-32, and the sale of this helicopter allowed to support the production of units and components, which ultimately helped keep the fleet helicopters in service. Today, despite the increase in the state defense order, special funds for research and development on new topics are not allocated, and this is a serious problem. Therefore, in the foreseeable future, waiting for some fundamentally new cars is not worth it, but we continue to improve existing ones. "

However, there are new helicopters that should be in demand as training, reconnaissance and light transport vehicles. First of all it Ka-60 / 62

and own development of factory Kazan KB, which is known as Ansat.

The total number of light helicopters in army aviation, along with naval aviation, will be about 200 units.

However, to say that the manufacturers are not working at all to create a new average transport vehicle, this means provoking anger on their head. Already conducted tests of the new helicopter Mi-38,

which is very similar in technical characteristics to the EH-101 Merlin, which is also actively used for military purposes. The Ministry of Defense reports that it is ready to consider the possibility of acquiring Mi-38, but only after the end of the tests of the helicopter. And this will happen no earlier than 2014 of the year. Of course, a hundred such helicopters would be a great help in the ranks of the Mi-8 and Mi-26.

And instead of the heart - a fiery motor

The heart of any vehicle is the motor, therefore the development and production of aircraft engines for helicopters is the most important task, the solution of which directly determines the performance of the existing LG-2020 in its helicopter part. Even in the middle of the “zero”, an important strategic decision was made about the establishment of the production of helicopter engines in Russia, which until this point were mainly purchased in Ukraine. The decision is a decision, but in practice it has not yet been able to launch such production in full, therefore, until now, Ukrainian engines manufactured by Motro Sich are installed on Russian helicopters.

This provision is permissible as long as Kiev maintains friendly relations with Russia. But if you look at this issue from a different angle, then putting in dependence the majority of the domestic helicopter program on the Ukrainian government is not the best option. Therefore, the first task of the defense industrial complex Oboronprom, which monitors not only the production of machines ("Russian Helicopters"), but also the engines for them (United Engine Corporation - JDC), should be the expansion of domestic production of engines. Certain shifts in this direction are already being felt. For example, on the basis of St. Petersburg OJSC Klimov, a new design and production complex is being created, which will be able to produce about 450 engines for a year. Initially, it is planned to launch the production of VK-2500 and TV3-117 engines, as well as to start developing new engine models. For the implementation of these goals, the UEC received a loan of almost 5 billion rubles. New production will be located in Shuvalov.

Myth or reality?

It will be possible to get an answer to this question only several years later, but a start has been made. And I must say that a good start. Russian Helicopters have already manufactured over 200 machines since the beginning of the year. And despite the fact that according to the plan they need to hand over the entire 267 helicopters in a year. Therefore, there is no reason to doubt that they will increase the pace by the 2015 year and will be able to produce 400 machines annually. Against this background, the development prospects for the release of more than 100 helicopters per year for the military department seem to be quite bright. In fact, the implementation of the existing GIC-2020 in terms of helicopters depends only on three factors: support by the country's leadership, economic development and systematic financing. If these factors are favorable, then at the beginning of the thirties of the twenty-first century the helicopter fleet of the Russian army will be fully equipped with new modern combat and auxiliary vehicles.
Author:
Valery Boval
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