Douglas Barrie/MIDDLE WALLOP

ROLLS-ROYCE is studying development of a further variant of its Gem turbo-shaft engine, the Gem 62, as a candidate for a British Army Air Corps Westland Lynx upgrade programme.

Although the Lynx is to be replaced in the anti-armour role with the arrival of the McDonnell Douglas/Westland WAH-64 Apache, the UK intends to keep it in service, at least until 2015, as a battlefield utility helicopter.

Gordon Waddington, project director for Rolls-Royce Military Aero Engines, says: "There is an opportunity for looking at a Gem 42 replacement in the Lynx." He explains: "The driver for the upgrade is a power requirement covering one-engine-out and hot-and-high performance."

The UK engine company, says Waddington is at a relatively early stage, in the Gem 62 study. The aim is to couple the reliability of the Gem 42 with the power of the Gem 60.

The new power plant would provide a maximum power of 1,200kW (1,600hp) in comparison to the Gem 42s' 835kW. The study phase, is expected to be concluded, by the end of the year.

The company, however, does not consider the Gem 62 to be a power plant option for a new-build Lynx. Waddington sees the LHTEC T-800 as the main power plant candidate for new airframes. The launch of the Gem 62 is effectively tied to whether the Army Air Corps or the Royal Navy decides to upgrade their Lynx, admits Waddington.

Although the engine would be designed as a "slot-in" replacement for the Gem 42, it would be an all-new engine and would not use the existing engine modules.

R-R and Westland have begun to study a transmission and gearbox upgrade for the WAH-64 which would end the need to derate the R-R/Turbom,ca RTM322 turboshafts. The upgrade is envisaged as part of a mid-life upgrade for the WAH-64.

Source: Flight International