This year’s edition of MAKS International Aviation and Space Salon, held in Zhukovsky, near Moscow, was special to say the least. The next-generation military aircraft, Checkmate, was officially presented for the first time. Rosboronexport (the Russian state agency for military-related exports) claimed to have signed contracts worth more than $ 1 billion with international clients.
But another big revelation was that Russia is planning to enter the eVTOL market soon, as well as to embark on sustainable aviation technologies.
One of the innovations that took center stage at MAKS was a mock-up of the new hybrid aircraft engine. Based on another new engine, the VK-650V, this hybrid version has been specially designed for new generation unmanned aircraft with three propellers. The mock-up consisted of a gas turbine engine, electric motors, electronic power units, an electric generator and a battery pack.
According to a recent announcement from Rostec (the state’s military-industrial complex), the plan is to complete the first demonstrator next year, with a kW power, followed by the 500 kW version, in 2023. This hybrid system would not only reduce CO2 emissions, but also increase the thrust / weight ratio and improve performance.
Some of its future applications include light multi-purpose helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles with a take-off weight between 2 and 8 tonnes, air taxis and other VTOL models. The intention is to also develop a hybrid version for maritime applications, with a power of 200-250 kW.
In addition to this, United Engine Corporation of Rostec also announced the launch of an innovative program that will explore 2 technologies for hydrogen engines. The first is based on the direct combustion of hydrogen, while the other will focus on fuel cells.
Hot topics for some time in the US and European aviation industries, hybrid propulsion and hydrogen fuel cells have so far not really been discussed in Russian aviation public opinion. It will be interesting to see if and how he will catch up.