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New AL-41 unveiled at MAKS 2001

NPO Saturn unveiled its AL-41F1 engine for fifth generation fighters at the MAKS 2001 Moscow air show in mid-August.

The F1 is the smallest AL-41 family member and has mounting points similar to those of the company's AL-31F, which would allow the new powerplant to be retrofitted to Sukhoi's Su-27 family.

"The air force is looking for effective upgrade solutions for its in-service aircraft. This engine provides it, and can breathe new life into the Su-27," says Victor Chepkin, Saturn scientific director.

The AL-41F was designed for supercruise, thrust vectoring and post-stall angles of attack. The family also includes high-thrust aircraft engines and industrial gas turbines.

Development began in 1986, and first examples of the engine were flown on testbed aircraft in the late 1980s. Flight tests resumed in February 2000 on the RSK MiG 1.44 technology demonstrator.

"We have done all the tests on this engine as a thrust-maker. Further work should be connected with an airframe, as the philosophy of the fifth-generation fighters calls for control of the engine and thrust-vectoring system as part of an integrated flight control system," says Chepkin. Some $600-700 million is needed to complete tests and integrate the engine with a flight control system, he adds.

The AL-41 meets an 11:1 thrust-to-weight ratio design target, compared with the 8.3:1 for the AL-31.Work is in progress to increase the figure to 12-12.5:1.