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Putin discusses big Russian engine for civil aircraft

Alexander Mercouris




The meeting on 23rd September 2017 between President Putin and two of his key economic officials, Economics Minister Oreshkin and Industry Minister Manturov, provided an interesting insight into Russian civil and military aerospace projects.

Here is the exchange between Putin and Manturov as reported by the Kremlin’s website

Vladimir Putin: I have two specific questions regarding the Il-114 regional aircraft and the 35-tonne increase in aircraft engine capacity. How are these projects proceeding, are there any difficulties and what has to be done to support these projects?

Denis Manturov: Mr President, as for the projects that you ordered us to implement last year: these include a new version of Il-96–400, the Il-114, the PD-35 engine, the TB7-117 engine for the Il-114 aircraft that will also be used for the cargo version of the Il-112, and for the Mi-38 helicopter. These projects are proceeding on schedule. We have the funding allocated for 2018, and are now working with the Ministry of Finance to seek funding for 2019–2020. This has yet to be resolved. But as regards 2018, the required funding has been provided in full.

Vladimir Putin: As for 2019–2020 funding, these programmes are important and needed, and everyone expects them to be implemented. Let us arrange it this way: we have funded the spending from Rosneftegaz through 2018, while the expenses for 2019–2020 have to be paid for from the budget. I will arrange for this with the Ministry of Finance.

Denis Manturov: Thank you very much. We will definitely build these aircraft and, most importantly, the engine.

All of these projects are well known save for the big PD-35 aircraft project, which as the exchange between Putin and Manturov makes clear, is however the priority project attracting the most funding.

The fact that Russia was working on a big 30 to 35 tonne aircraft engine to replace the Ukrainian D-18 engine of the Soviet era has been known about since 2015.  It was discussed, in vague and elliptical language, during a meeting in the Kremlin on 3rd August 2015 between Russian President Putin and Dmitry Rogozin, the Russian Deputy Minister in overall charge of Russia’s defence industries.  This is what Rogozin said to Putin during that meeting

Following your instruction, we carried out unprecedented work to restore production in Samara of NK-32 engines for our Tu-160 strategic bomber.

Having analysed the situation and spoken with the designers, we came up with an interesting solution. We think we should look at the issue not as a single priority goal tied to the development of particular models of aircraft, because it takes longer (from three to five years) to develop an engine than to develop a plane. We believe we need to look ahead and create a reserve for the future.

Our solution is based on the work underway at Perm Motors, where we want to develop a gas-generator based engine that would allow us to expand our engine range for aircraft with a take-off thrust of 9 to 16 tonnes.

This would enable us to eventually replace the engines on the new Sukhoi Superjet, develop a replacement for the Ukrainian engines our Mi-26 helicopters are using, and provide engines for the future Russian-Chinese heavy helicopter and a larger version of the MS-21 for 210 passengers.

We can achieve the same goal by enlarging the NK-32 engine’s gas generator. In other words, we can do what we are already doing now for engines for our strategic bombers, adapting them for military transport aircraft and for the Russian-Chinese heavy long-haul wide-bodied aircraft. I have already told our Chinese colleagues that we can do this work independently of any third parties, and they reacted positively to this.

(bold italics added)

Rogozin’s words, though vague, clearly referred to the PD-30, a Kuznetsov design based on the military NK-32 engine which powers Russia’s TU-160 and TU-22M3 supersonic bombers.  Here is how that engine was described in an article dated 4th May 2012

The PD30 is portrayed as a low-risk project through extensive use of off-the-shelf components and technologies proven on other projects. However, it features many innovations: a high-power (50,000 hp, 99 percent efficiency) reduction gearbox between fan and turbine, wide-chord hollow (honeycomb) fan blades, very-low-emission combustor, mono-crystal blades, blisks in the HP compressor and booster, chevron nozzle, all-composite nacelle, intake and thrust reverser, and Fadec.

When fitted to the An-124-300, the PD30 would develop 29.5 metric tons (65,000 pounds) of thrust for takeoff and 5.7 to 6.2 metric tons (12,560- to 13,670 pounds) when cruising at 11,000 meters (36,000 feet). Low specific fuel consumption (SFC) of 0.535-0.548 lb/lb/hr is achieved through a high bypass ratio (between 7.65 and 8.7), while gas temperatures are kept at 1,433K at maximum continuous power.

By comparison, the D18T series 5 delivers 27.85 metric tons (61,400 pounds) thrust at takeoff and 6.28 metric tons (13,840 pounds) in cruise, with an SFC of 0.541 lb/lb/hr. At 5,140 kg (11,330 pounds), the PD30 weighs 560 kg (1,235 pounds) less than the D18T. Kuznetsov says that the PD30 has a similar performance to the Rolls-Royce Trent series, while running at lower temperatures for higher margins and lower emission levels.

The centerpiece of the PD30 project is the use of a “modified baseline gas generator” from the improved NK32 turbofan that powers the Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber. Production of the NK32 was restarted recently, with some 40 engines already manufactured. The fleet leader has logged more than 3,500 flight hours. The modified gas generator is undergoing bench testing, and has so far amassed 1,000 hours. Kuznetsov says its industrial turbine NK36ST that is derived from NK32 has logged 25,000 hours without removal, while running continuously at 1,520K.

(bold italics added)

The fact that the proposed PD-30 is reported to use a “modified baseline gas generator” derived from the NK-32 makes it fairly clear that this was the engine Rogozin was referring to.

The PD-35 – the engine discussed by Putin and Manturov in the Kremlin – is a wholly different design, unrelated to the NK-32, which at 35 tonnes thrust is significantly more powerful than the 30 tonnes thrust PD-30, or indeed the 27 tonnes thrust of the earlier Ukrainian D-18, which the new Russian big engine is intended to replace.

Some details of the PD-35 were given in an article dated 1st December 2015, which disclosed that the engine is being developed by the Perm based Aviagdivatel enterprise and that it draws on the technology of the civil PD-14 (the engine which powers Russia’s new MC-21 narrow body airliner) rather than of the NK-32.

It is, however, the 35-ton PD-35 that will become the baseline model for the new enlarge family of powerplants, says Igor Maximov, the PD family chief designer at the development and prouction plant Aviadvigatel. For that new powerplant, the core of the PD-14 will received an additional stage at the discharge of the high-pressure compressor. As a result, the total number of stages at the PD-35 compressor and turbine will be 9+2, and the high-pressure compressor intake diameter will be 815 mm, as compared to the PD-14’s 582 mm. The engine’s fan diameter will reportedly be 3,100 mm; the engine will be over 8 m long, and will weigh around 8 tons.

At least two more powerplants will be developed from the PD-35: the 28-ton PD-28 and the 24-ton PD-24. The larger two of the engine family will be offered for next-generation two- and four-engine widebodies, whereas the smallest one will be mounted on short-haul widebody airliners and a heavy military transport, says Aviadvigatel’s presentation.

One feasible application for the smallest of the powerplants would be the widebody airliner under joint development by Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation and China’s COMAC. The 280-seat aircraft, codenamed C929, is scheduled to make its maiden flight in 2021 and enter service in 2025.

This same article from December 2015 however speaks of the PD-30 engine programme still continuing

Belousov notes that a similar powerplant program is being looked into at Samara-based Kuznetsov Company (also part of UEC), which is considering developing engines with up to 35 t thrust from the NK-32 turbojet engine currently powering Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bombers. According to Belousov, both companies are looking at the classic layout and the geared-turbofan possibility.

In their discussion on 23rd September 2017 Putin and Manturov made no mention of the PD-30.  Possibly following comparisons between the two engines a decision was made to discontinue the PD-30 so as to focus on the more advanced and more powerful PD-35.

Alternatively, since unlike the PD-30 (which has a five year start) development of the PD-35 is apparently still in its early design stages, with the engine not expected to enter production for at least a further six years, it may be that development of both engines is underway concurrently, with the less sophisticated and more conservative PD-30 intended for use as an interim engine until the more advanced and more powerful PD-35 becomes available in quantity after the mid 2020s.

The article about the PD-35 shows that not just one engine but a whole family of engines are being developed to complement the family of smaller engines being developed on the basis of the PD-14.  Apparently there will be three related engines: the base line 35 tonnes thrust PD-35 engine, and two smaller engines, the PD-28 and PD-24, of 28 and 24 tonnes thrust respectively.

The PD-24 is apparently intended for a “heavy military transport” (almost certainly this is the revived Ilyushin-106 project) as well as for various civil aircraft projects.

The bigger PD-28 is apparently also intended for various civil aircraft projects, but may also possibly be intended for use by a future replacement of the AN-124 heavy transport.

Here I will express my view that contrary to what is said in the article I think it unlikely that the Russians are planning any four engine civil widebodies beyond the IL-96-400, and that all future Russian civil aircraft projects including those being developed in collaboration with China – apart conceivably for a superheavy airliner (see below) – will be two engine designs.

There is no information of the use of the PD-35 in any planned aircraft, though the high priority given to the PD-35 engine project by Putin and Manturov shows that plans for such an aircraft undoubtedly exist.

Possibly it is intended for a big two engine long range intercontinental civil airliner along the lines of the Airbus A350 to replace the IL-96-400, which must be treated as a stop-gap until more modern aircraft become available.

Though I am not sure whether Russia needs a long range superheavy four engine civil aircraft in the class of Airbus A380, China might do so, and if so the PD-35 would also provide an engine sufficiently powerful for it.  It may even be demand from China for such an engine that is ultimately the driving force for the PD-35 project.

The PD-35 engine could also conceivably be used to power a superheavy transport to replace the AN-225, the sole example of which is now operated by Ukraine.

Unlike superheavy civil aircraft such as the Airbus A380, Russia arguably does need such a superheavy transport aircraft.  The AN-225 after all was designed by the Antonov bureau in the 1970s when Ukraine was part of the USSR to meet (Soviet) Russian needs.

Four PD-35 engines would provide sufficient power for such an aircraft, whilst providing a simpler and more elegant design solution than the complicated six engine arrangement used by the AN-225.

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Is the Violent Dismemberment of Russia Official US Policy?

Neocons make the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

The Duran



Authored by Erik D’Amato via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity:

If there’s one thing everyone in today’s Washington can agree on, it’s that whenever an official or someone being paid by the government says something truly outrageous or dangerous, there should be consequences, if only a fleeting moment of media fury.

With one notable exception: Arguing that the US should be quietly working to promote the violent disintegration and carving up of the largest country on Earth.

Because so much of the discussion around US-Russian affairs is marked by hysteria and hyperbole, you are forgiven for assuming this is an exaggeration. Unfortunately it isn’t. Published in the Hill under the dispassionate title “Managing Russia’s dissolution,” author Janusz Bugajski makes the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

Engagement, criticism and limited sanctions have simply reinforced Kremlin perceptions that the West is weak and predictable. To curtail Moscow’s neo-imperialism a new strategy is needed, one that nourishes Russia’s decline and manages the international consequences of its dissolution.

Like many contemporary cold warriors, Bugajski toggles back and forth between overhyping Russia’s might and its weaknesses, notably a lack of economic dynamism and a rise in ethnic and regional fragmentation.But his primary argument is unambiguous: That the West should actively stoke longstanding regional and ethnic tensions with the ultimate aim of a dissolution of the Russian Federation, which Bugajski dismisses as an “imperial construct.”

The rationale for dissolution should be logically framed: In order to survive, Russia needs a federal democracy and a robust economy; with no democratization on the horizon and economic conditions deteriorating, the federal structure will become increasingly ungovernable…

To manage the process of dissolution and lessen the likelihood of conflict that spills over state borders, the West needs to establish links with Russia’s diverse regions and promote their peaceful transition toward statehood.

Even more alarming is Bugajski’s argument that the goal should not be self-determination for breakaway Russian territories, but the annexing of these lands to other countries. “Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past.”

It is, needless to say, impossible to imagine anything like this happening without sparking a series of conflicts that could mirror the Yugoslav Wars. Except in this version the US would directly culpable in the ignition of the hostilities, and in range of 6,800 Serbian nuclear warheads.

So who is Janusz Bugajski, and who is he speaking for?

The author bio on the Hill’s piece identifies him as a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington, D.C. think-tank. But CEPA is no ordinary talk shop: Instead of the usual foundations and well-heeled individuals, its financial backers seem to be mostly arms of the US government, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the US Mission to NATO, the US-government-sponsored National Endowment for Democracy, as well as as veritable who’s who of defense contractors, including Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Textron. Meanwhile, Bugajski chairs the South-Central Europe area studies program at the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State.

To put it in perspective, it is akin to a Russian with deep ties to the Kremlin and arms-makers arguing that the Kremlin needed to find ways to break up the United States and, if possible, have these breakaway regions absorbed by Mexico and Canada. (A scenario which alas is not as far-fetched as it might have been a few years ago; many thousands in California now openly talk of a “Calexit,” and many more in Mexico of a reconquista.)

Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine a quasi-official voice like Bugajski’s coming out in favor of a similar policy vis-a-vis China, which has its own restive regions, and which in geopolitical terms is no more or less of a threat to the US than Russia. One reason may be that China would consider an American call for secession by the Tibetans or Uyghurs to be a serious intrusion into their internal affairs, unlike Russia, which doesn’t appear to have noticed or been ruffled by Bugajski’s immodest proposal.

Indeed, just as the real scandal in Washington is what’s legal rather than illegal, the real outrage in this case is that few or none in DC finds Bugajski’s virtual declaration of war notable.

But it is. It is the sort of provocation that international incidents are made of, and if you are a US taxpayer, it is being made in your name, and it should be among your outrages of the month.

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At Age 70, Time To Rethink NATO

The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

Patrick J. Buchanan



Authored by Patrick Buchanan via The Unz Review:

“Treaties are like roses and young girls. They last while they last.”

So said President Charles De Gaulle, who in 1966 ordered NATO to vacate its Paris headquarters and get out of France.

NATO this year celebrates a major birthday. The young girl of 1966 is no longer young. The alliance is 70 years old.

And under this aging NATO today, the U.S. is committed to treat an attack on any one of 28 nations from Estonia to Montenegro to Romania to Albania as an attack on the United States.

The time is ripe for a strategic review of these war guarantees to fight a nuclear-armed Russia in defense of countries across the length of Europe that few could find on a map.

Apparently, President Donald Trump, on trips to Europe, raised questions as to whether these war guarantees comport with vital U.S. interests and whether they could pass a rigorous cost-benefit analysis.

The shock of our establishment that Trump even raised this issue in front of Europeans suggests that the establishment, frozen in the realities of yesterday, ought to be made to justify these sweeping war guarantees.

Celebrated as “the most successful alliance in history,” NATO has had two histories. Some of us can yet recall its beginnings.

In 1948, Soviet troops, occupying eastern Germany all the way to the Elbe and surrounding Berlin, imposed a blockade on the city.

The regime in Prague was overthrown in a Communist coup. Foreign minister Jan Masaryk fell, or was thrown, from a third-story window to his death. In 1949, Stalin exploded an atomic bomb.

As the U.S. Army had gone home after V-E Day, the U.S. formed a new alliance to protect the crucial European powers — West Germany, France, Britain, Italy. Twelve nations agreed that an attack on one would be treated as an attack on them all.

Cross the Elbe and you are at war with us, including the U.S. with its nuclear arsenal, Stalin was, in effect, told. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops returned to Europe to send the message that America was serious.

Crucial to the alliance was the Yalta line dividing Europe agreed to by Stalin, FDR and Churchill at the 1945 Crimean summit on the Black Sea.

U.S. presidents, even when monstrous outrages were committed in Soviet-occupied Europe, did not cross this line into the Soviet sphere.

Truman did not send armored units up the highway to Berlin. He launched an airlift to break the Berlin blockade. Ike did not intervene to save the Hungarian rebels in 1956. JFK confined his rage at the building of the Berlin Wall to the rhetorical: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

LBJ did nothing to help the Czechs when, before the Democratic convention in 1968, Leonid Brezhnev sent Warsaw Pact tank armies to crush the Prague Spring.

When the Solidarity movement of Lech Walesa was crushed in Gdansk, Reagan sent copy and printing machines. At the Berlin Wall in 1988, he called on Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Reagan never threatened to tear it down himself.

But beginning in 1989, the Wall was torn down, Germany was united, the Red Army went home, the Warsaw Pact dissolved, the USSR broke apart into 15 nations, and Leninism expired in its birthplace.

As the threat that had led to NATO disappeared, many argued that the alliance created to deal with that threat should be allowed to fade away, and a free and prosperous Europe should now provide for its own defense.

It was not to be. The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

This, said Kennan, would “inflame the nationalistic and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion” and “restore the atmosphere of the cold war in East-West relations.” Kennan was proven right.

America is now burdened with the duty to defend Europe from the Atlantic to the Baltic, even as we face a far greater threat in China, with an economy and population 10 times that of Russia.

And we must do this with a defense budget that is not half the share of the federal budget or the GDP that Eisenhower and Kennedy had.

Trump is president today because the American people concluded that our foreign policy elite, with their endless interventions where no vital U.S. interest was imperiled, had bled and virtually bankrupted us, while kicking away all of the fruits of our Cold War victory.

Halfway into Trump’s term, the question is whether he is going to just talk about halting Cold War II with Russia, about demanding that Europe pay for its own defense, and about bringing the troops home — or whether he is going to act upon his convictions.

Our foreign policy establishment is determined to prevent Trump from carrying out his mandate. And if he means to carry out his agenda, he had best get on with it.

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Photos of new Iskander base near Ukrainian border creates media hype

But research into the photos and cross-checking of news reports reveals only the standard anti-Russian narrative that has gone on for years.

Seraphim Hanisch



Fox News obtained satellite photos that claim that Russia has recently installed new Iskander missile batteries, one of them “near” to the Ukrainian border. However, what the Fox article does not say is left for the reader to discover: that in regards to Ukraine, these missiles are probably not that significant, unless the missiles are much longer range than reported:

The intelligence report provided to Fox by Imagesat International showed the new deployment in Krasnodar, 270 miles from the Ukrainian border. In the images is visible what appears to be an Iskander compound, with a few bunkers and another compound of hangars. There is a second new installation that was discovered by satellite photos, but this one is much farther to the east, in the region relatively near to Ulan-Ude, a city relatively close to the Mongolian border.

Both Ukraine and Mongolia are nations that have good relations with the West, but Mongolia has good relations with both its immediate neighbors, Russia and China, and in fact participated with both countries in the massive Vostok-2018 military war-games earlier this year.

Fox News provided these photos of the Iskander emplacement near Krasnodar:

Imagesat International

Fox annotated this photo in this way:

Near the launcher, there is a transloader vehicle which enables quick reloading of the missiles into the launcher. One of the bunker’s door is open, and another reloading vehicle is seen exiting from it.

[Fox:] The Iskander ballistic missile has a range up to 310 miles, and can carry both unconventional as well as nuclear warheads, putting most of America’s NATO allies at risk. The second deployment is near the border with Mongolia, in Ulan-Ude in Sothern Russia, where there are four launchers and another reloading vehicle.

[Fox:] Earlier this week, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said authorities of the former Soviet republic are being “controlled” by the West, warning it stands to lose its independence and identity as a consequence. “The continuation of such policy by the Kiev authorities can contribute to the loss of Ukraine’s statehood,” Mr Patrushev told Rossiyskaya Gazeta, according to Russian news agency TASS.

This situation was placed by Fox in context with the Kerch Strait incident, in which three Ukrainian vessels and twenty-four crew and soldiers were fired upon by Russian coast guard ships as they manuevered in the Kerch Strait without permission from Russian authorities based in Crimea. There are many indications that this incident was a deliberate attempt on the part of Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko, to create a sensational incident, possibly to bolster his flagging re-election campaign. After the incident, the President blustered and set ten provinces in Ukraine under martial law for 30 days, insisting to the world, and especially to the United States, that Russia was “preparing to invade” his country.

Russia expressed no such sentiment in any way, but they are holding the soldiers until the end of January. However, on January 17th, a Moscow court extended the detention of eight of these captured Ukrainian sailors despite protests from Kyiv and Washington.

In addition to the tensions in Ukraine, the other significant point of disagreement between the Russian Federation and the US is the US’ plan to withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Russia sees this treaty as extremely important, but the US point of view expressed by John Bolton, National Security Adviser, is that the treaty is useless because it does not include any other parties that have intermediate range nukes or the capability for them, such as Iran, North Korea, and China. This is an unsolved problem, and it is possible that the moves of the Iskander batteries is a subtle warning from the Russians that they really would rather the US stay in the treaty.

Discussions on this matter at public levels between the Russian government and the US have been very difficult because of the fierce anti-Russia and anti-Trump campaigns in the media and political establishments of the United States. President Putin and President Trump have both expressed the desire to meet, but complications like the Kerch Strait Incident conveniently arise, and have repeatedly disrupted the attempts for these two leaders to meet.

Where Fox News appears to get it wrong shows in a few places:

First, the known range for Iskander missiles maxes at about 310 miles. The placement of the battery near Krasnodar is 270 miles from the eastern Ukrainian border, but the eastern part of Ukraine is Russian-friendly and two provinces, Donetsk and Lugansk, are breakaway provinces acting as independent republics. The battery appears to be no threat to Kyiv or to that part of Ukraine which is aligned with the West. Although the missiles could reach into US ally Georgia, Krasnodar is 376 miles from Tbilisi, and so again it seems that there is no significant target for these missiles. (This is assuming the location given is accurate.)

Second, the location shown in the photo is (44,47,29.440N at 39,13,04.754E). The date on the “Krasnodar” photo is January 17, 2019. However, a photo of the region taken July 24, 2018 reveals a different layout. It takes a moment or two to study this, but there is not much of an exact match here:

Third, Fox News reported of “further Russian troops deployment and S-400 Surface to air missile days after the escalation started, hinting Russia might have orchestrated the naval incident.”

It may be true that Russia deployed weapons to this base area in Crimea, but this is now Russian territory. S-400s can be used offensively, but their primary purpose is defensive. Troops on the Crimean Peninsula, especially at this location far to the north of the area, are not in a position strategically to invade Kherson Oblast (a pushback would probably corner such forces on the Crimean peninsula with nowhere to go except the Black Sea). However, this does look like a possible defense installation should Ukraine’s forces try to invade or bomb Crimea.

Fox has this wrong, but it is no great surprise, because the American stance about Ukraine and Russia is similar – Russia can do no right, and Ukraine can do no wrong. Fox News is not monolithic on this point of view, of course, with anchors and journalists such as Tucker Carlson, who seem willing to acknowledge the US propaganda about the region. However, there are a lot of hawks as well. While photos in the articles about the S-400s and the Russian troops are accurately located, it does appear that the one about Iskanders is not, and that the folks behind this original article are guessing that the photos will not be questioned. After all, no one in the US knows where anything is in Russia and Ukraine, anyway, right?

That there is an issue here is likely. But is it appears that there is strong evidence that it is opposite what Fox reported here, it leaves much to be questioned.

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