The refusal of Western manufacturers to supply components to Russia was a painful blow for the domestic aircraft industry. Not only the Superjet-100 and MS-21 passenger liners, which were originally oriented towards broad international cooperation, were affected, but also several projects in the field of helicopter construction. It turns out that as part of import substitution, we will now have to overcome dependence not only on the Ukrainian Motor Sich, but also on European and even Canadian suppliers.
We are talking about three Russian helicopters at once, on which foreign power plants are installed. These are light helicopters Ansat, Ka-226T and the promising VRT500. Ansat and VRT500 use PW207V engines manufactured by Pratt & Whitney Canada (this is a Canadian division of a well-known American company, formally considered independent). With the Ka-226 multi-purpose helicopter, it is still more difficult. In the basic version, it was equipped with Allison / Rolls-Royce engines, and now it is equipped with two Arrius 2G1 gas turbine engines from Safran Helicopter Engines. And, of course, after February 24, 2022, our foreign partners made it clear that there would be no more supplies and maintenance of their products.
This is a rather serious problem. The Ka-226 multi-purpose helicopter is operated by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Federal Security Service, the Russian Guard, the Moscow Police Department, a subsidiary of Gazprom, as well as medical institutions. In addition, the Indian Armed Forces showed great interest in the rotorcraft. There is an agreement on the organization in India of a joint venture for the production of helicopters of this type. In Russia, the production of the Ka-226 is carried out at the KumAPP enterprise in Bashkortostan.
Ansat is a light multi-purpose helicopter developed by Kazan Helicopter Plant Design Bureau (KVZ) and produced in the capital of Tatarstan. The aircraft can be used to transport passengers, deliver cargo, patrol, search and rescue operations, but it turned out to be most in demand in the field of emergency medical care. The Ansat helicopter with a medical module is actively operated by the operator of medical helicopters, Russian Helicopter Systems JSC.
The promising light helicopter VRT500 is not yet in production. It is designed on a coaxial system and should have several configurations: passenger, for the transport of VIP passengers, corporate, police, medical evacuation and cargo. In addition to using a foreign engine, it was supposed to involve the Italian aviation company Mecaer Aviation Group and the French Liebherr-Aerospace Toulouse SAS in the production of the VRT500 helicopter. In general, significant adjustments will clearly occur in the project.
And now, overnight, all three Russian helicopters, two serial and one promising, found themselves without the supply of new engines and maintenance of existing ones. This creates a rather serious problem for the industry, since here and now there is nothing to replace foreign power plants with domestic ones. However, good news is that there is already a certain backlog that will allow import substitution of engines in the horizon of the next few years.
Will do with us
To replace the Canadian PW207V manufactured by Pratt & Whitney Canada, UEC-Klimov JSC and other UEC enterprises are working on the creation of a promising VK-650V engine. The power plant with a capacity of 650 horsepower will be installed on light-class helicopters Ka-226T, Ansat and VRT500. The engine was designed taking into account all modern requirements in order to be competitive in the world market. With a weight of 105 kilograms, the VK-650V will be able to operate at an altitude of up to 7 km in the temperature range from -55 to +60 degrees Celsius, and the helicopter itself will be able to fly in emergency mode for 2,5 minutes with one engine turned off.
The development of the power plant began in 2018 in a wide industry cooperation. In 2020, a demonstrator was created, in 2021 it was successfully launched with ignition of the combustion chamber. In the next 2023, certification and the start of mass production are planned.
Meanwhile, the UEC is also considering another option for the remotorization of Russian light multi-purpose helicopters. This is the VK-800 engine, work on which began two decades ago, significant technological touched, but in the middle of the 800s, the matter died out when they were carried away by "international cooperation". The power of this promising power plant is 800 horsepower, and it has two modifications: the VK-800S turboprop for light aircraft and UAVs and the VK-XNUMXV turboshaft for helicopters.
There is a good chance that the VK-800 will be installed not only on the LMS 901 Baikal light aircraft as part of the import substitution program, but also on the Ansat helicopter, which the developers have been thinking about from the very beginning. Obviously, everything will depend on the real volumes of demand and production.