Military engines: Europe

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The West's most powerful turboprop and the world's largest military engine programme dominate in the region

Europe's military engines market is dominated by two collaborative programmes: the Eurojet EJ200 in production for the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Europrop TP400-D6 under development for the Airbus Military A400M airlifter. While the EJ200 is notable for being the world's largest military engine production programme, Europrop is developing the Western world's most powerful turboprop - signs that European industry is still capable of working together on major programmes.


Geoff Lee/Eurofighter 
Eurojet will begin EJ200 Tranche 2 deliveries to Eurofighter by mid-year 

Research and development on advanced technologies continues, but there is little sign of any future European military engine programme that might stimulate continued funding. Rolls-Royce is in perhaps the healthiest position, having strong links with the US market through the Joint Strike Fighter programme and, as a result of its purchase of Allison in 1994, a major stake in major turboshaft and turboprop programmes.

Awarded the contract to develop the EJ200 in 1986, Eurojet brings together the UK's Rolls-Royce (34.5%), Germany's MTU (30%), Italy's Avio (19.5%) and Spain's ITP (16%). By the end of last year the consortium had delivered all 363 Tranche 1 engines destined for Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. Deliveries of 519 planned Tranche 2 engines are to begin by mid-year. These feature improved control and monitoring technology, with all of elements of the digital engine control integrated into a single unit. The overall production contract is for 1,400 engines, and to date EJ200s have accumulated more than 39,000 engine flying hours.

R-R is also developing the lift system for the F-35B short take-off and vertical landing variant of the Lockheed Martin JSF. This comprises the shaft-driven lift fan, three-bearing swivel module for the aft nozzle and a pair of roll posts, and is designed to work with either JSF engine: the primary Pratt & Whitney F135 or alternative F136, for which R-R is partnered with General Electric (see P34).

The EJ200 is not the only fighter engine in production in Europe. Snecma, a member of France's Safran group, has so far delivered more than 150 M88-2s to power Dassault Rafale multi-role combat aircraft for the French armed forces. The company continues to build the M53-P2 powering the Dassault Mirage 2000, and to develop improvements for the Atar 9K50, which powers earlier Mirage F1s still in service around the world, most recently for Libya and Morocco.

Staged improvements

Delivery of the first of 29 Stage 1 M88s took place between 1998 and 2001. From December 2001 various improvements were introduced leading progressively to the Stage 4 variant, mainly involving in increasing hot-end inspection periods. Stage 4 engines have primarily been delivered for French air force Rafales, but upgrade kits are now becoming available for French navy aircraft.

Since late 2004, Snecma has been testing two M88 "ECO" demonstrator engines to look at modifications leading to reduced cost of ownership and improved component efficiencies. Studies of a higher-thrust variant with no increases in fuel burn or weight may follow. Tests of the first engine, for performance evaluation, were completed at the end of 2006 while the second engine, for endurance trials, remains under test.

The M88 has so far logged around 45,000 engine flight hours, and French defence procurement agency DGA has awarded a "post-qualification" contract to analyse data from the engines in service. This will be used to introduce changes that increase life and reduce the number of inspections on operational engines starting in 2008.

Snecma is also proposing improvements that will extend the service life of certain parts, along with a further significant reduction in time between inspections and the streamlining of certain maintenance operations - all of which would reduce engine operating costs. Some of these improvements are based on lessons learned from the ECO demonstration programme, in particular concerning powder-metallurgy parts.

End of an era

The region's other fighter engine manufacturer, Sweden's Volvo Aero, is due to complete deliveries of 204 RM12s for the country's Saab JAS39 Gripens by March 2008, ending a 76-year run as the supplier of engines for the Swedish air force. An additional 29 engines will be produced for South African Gripens, with the last to be delivered in May 2011.

The RM12 was adapted for single-engined use by Volvo from the General Electric F404 and is built at the company's Trollhattan site near Gothenburg. The company's Norwegian subsidiary, Volvo Aero Norway, has agreements with both P&W and GE to supply components for the F135 and F136 JSF engines. For GE it will produce the forward and aft compressor cases, while for P&W the company will supply the low-pressure turbine shaft and intermediate case.

Responsibility for Europe's other major collaborative engine programme resides with Europrop International (EPI), formed in 2002. Headquartered in Munich, Germany, EPI manages and co-ordinates development of the 11,000shp (8,200kW) TP400-D6 turboprop selected to power the four-engined A400M airlifter. The engine ran for the first time with its Ratier-Figeac eight-bladed all-composite propellers in February 2006 and the programme is on schedule, says EPI, with more than 300 test hours having been completed to date. More than 750 engines will be required for the 192 A400Ms ordered so far.

Europrop partners comprise MTU, Rolls-Royce and Snecma, each with 28% share of the programme, and ITP with 16%. The TP400 is a three-spool engine, with a gearbox developed by Italy's Avio that is "handed" in order to turn the propellers in opposite directions on each wing.

EPI is approaching the first flight of the engine aboard a Lockheed C-130 test at Marshall Aerospace in the UK this year, to be followed by delivery of the first shipset of production engines to Seville, Spain in early 2008 for the first flight of the A400M. A total of 10 TP400-D6 engines will be built and tested for certification. Airbus Military still expects to begin A400M deliveries in October 2009.

Tiger power

The TP400 is a major programme for Spain's Industria de Turbo Propulsores, parent company of the ITP Group and jointly owned by Sener Aeronáutica (53.1%) and Rolls-Royce (46.9%). In addition to its 16% shares in the TP400 and EJ200 engines, ITP has taken a 25% stake in development, and 20% in production, of an enhanced version of the MTU Turbomeca Rolls-Royce MTR390 turboshaft. This has been selected to power Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters for the Spanish army.

In April ITP announced it was planning to set up a dedicated helicopter engine maintenance facility to maintain and overhaul Spanish armed forces helicopters, including NH Industries NH90 transports, which are powered by the Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322 turboshaft (see P36).

Europrop and Eurojet are the major military programmes for Germany's MTU. The company's 30% stake in the EJ200 covers responsibility for the low- and high-pressure compressors, elements of the high-pressure turbine and the electronic control and engine monitoring unit.

MTU is responsible for the TP400-D6's intermediate-pressure compressor, turbine and shaft and has a share in the engine control and monitoring unit. The company, which also assembles EJ200s for Germany, will perform final assembly and testing of all TP400-D6s at its Berlin-Brandenburg maintenance facility.

In partnership with the German air force, MTU has developed a co-operative maintenance concept that co-locates all activities for a single engine programme at a single location where company experts, military personnel and civilian air force employees work together. Involving military personnel in the industrial repair process ensures the air force does not lose any of its maintenance and system know-how, MTU says.

R-R alliance

Rolls-Royce, which derives 55% of its defence revenues from services, in November entered into an alliance with service provider Serco to explore extending its offerings, initially in the defence business. The two companies combined their resources to support the UK's Lockheed C-130 Hercules fleet after Rolls-Royce won a £110 million ($220 million) contract to ensure both T56 and AE2100 engine availability and engaged Serco to provide engineers to carry out servicing work at RAF Lyneham.

R-R also signed a £40 million services agreement covering Gem engines installed in UK Ministry of Defence Westland Lynx helicopters, and now has more than 2,800 engines and 4,150 modules under support contracts including US military deals covering the AE2100, the F405 (Adour turbofan) powering Boeing's T-45 and AE1107C powering the Bell Boeing V-22 tiltrotor.

The Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour continues in production, meanwhile, and the UK MoD has ordered 28 BAE System Hawk trainers powered by the latest Mk951 version of the Rolls-Royce Turbomeca military turbofan. In October, Rolls-Royce, Turbomeca and Dassault signed a deal providing for the lease of two Mk951 engines to power the Neuron European unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator. Delivery of the first engine, for ground testing, is set for mid-2008.

R-R is also participating in Project Taranis, a new £124 million UK MoD UCAV technology demonstrator programme awarded to BAE Systems last year. Likely to be powered by the Adour 951, the 8t-class Taranis demonstrator is expected to begin ground testing in Woomera, Australia early in 2009, leading to a first flight in 2010.


Dassault 
 Snecma is working to increase the life of the Dassault Rafale's M88