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Snecma/S Korea discuss M88 for KTX-II

SNECMA IS PUSHING a derivative of its M88 engine as the power plant for installation in South Korea's KTX-II advanced jet trainer/light-fighter project, as well as pursuing an increased power variant for a re-engine version of the French Dassault Mirage 2000.

The M88 is a 50kN dry-80kN with reheat (11,000-18,000lb)-class turbofan whose only application is the Dassault Rafale, but Snecma chairman Bernard Dufour says that it is "just the start of a family of engines".

The company is already in talks with South Korea to offer the M88-2K, based on a proposed non-after-burning variant of the M88, the 50kN M88-2S.

Alongside projecting a family of "dry" M88s, Snecma is also looking at developing the 110kN M884. This project is at the preliminary design stage, but is aimed at eventually replacing the M53K in the Mirage 2000.

Dufour says that Snecma has begun studies into the eventual re-engineing of the Mirage 2000-5, whose single M53 engine would be replaced by an M88. The company is already looking at up-rated versions of the M88 for projected higher-weight versions of the Rafale - the M88-3 with a thrust of 90kN, and the M88-4 with 110kN - and he sees these as being suitable for the Mirage 2000.

"I don't see why the [re-engined] Mirage 2000 should not be in production in ten years' time - the delta plan form still seems to be the best, and there's nothing very new in airframes," Dufour says.

The French company, has already proposed the engine to Saab, as a potential replacement for the Volvo Aero Engines RM-12 (General Electric F-404) in the JAS39 Gripen, but Dufour says, that the marketing tie-up between Saab and British Aerospace for the Gripen has "diminished" the chances of such a substitution being made.

He holds out more hope of his company selling the M88 - possibly in a non-after-burning "S" or "dry" form to South Korea.

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