MTU Aero Engines and Safran Helicopter Engines have set up a joint venture to develop a “100% European” next-generation powertrain for military rotorcraft, formalising a tentative agreement struck at last year’s Paris air show.

Called EURA – European Military Rotorcraft Engine Alliance – the business is owned equally by the two propulsion specialists; it will be based at Safran’s site in Bordes in southern France and led by a chief executive from MTU.

EURA signing-c-EURA

Source: EURA

Safran’s Cedric Goubet (centre, left) and Michael Schreyoegg of MTU sign the joint-venture agreement with French and German government officials

EURA will form the core of a larger programme that will “collaborate with industrial and technological partners from several other European nations”, the pair state.

It will “focus on the development of a new heavy helicopter engine” suitable for next-generation rotorcraft being contemplated for service entry by 2040 to replace current assets such as the NH Industries NH90.

Such a powerplant would enable the platform to deliver longer range, higher speed, better manoeuverability and higher availability than seen on the present generation of helicopters.

No formal programme currently exists within Europe to develop a future military helicopter although separate initiatives are being pursued through NATO and the European Defence Fund (EDF).

MTU and Safran see the latter project – an Airbus- and Leonardo-led effort called EU Next Generation Rotorcraft Technologies (ENGRT) – as being particularly suited to their engine development.

They believe the formation of EURA will “also encourage a future specific call for military helicopter engines” by the EDF. “Safran Helicopter Engines and MTU, via EURA, would then respond together with a capable consortium of partners,” they state.

“This joint venture will enable us to start developing new technologies such as hybrid-electric propulsion and high-temperature materials, to meet the specifications of future helicopter projects,” says Cedric Goubet, Safran Helicopter Engines chief executive.

Safran and MTU previously worked together, alongside Rolls-Royce, on the MTR390 engine for the Airbus Helicopters Tiger. They are also collaborating through their joint EUMET business to deliver an engine that will power the New Generation Fighter being developed under the Future Combat Air System programme for France, Germany and Spain.

Germany NH90 TTH-c-Bundeswehr

Source: Bundeswehr

Next-generation rotorcraft will eventually replace assets including the NH90