Rolls-Royce recently unveiled the latest research on its jet engine, which will be equipped with Britain’s sixth-generation Tempest fighter, which is expected to be operational by 2035. This year is the fifth year of the project, and the new engine will not only provide supersonic flight for combatants, but also power future energy weapons or other systems.
Fifth-generation fighterjets like Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II are just beginning to be deployed in large numbers, but major air forces around the world consider them obsolete and are starting to design and manufacture new aircraft. One of the frontrunners in this race is Britain’s Tempest fighter. In July last year, Sweden set to join the UK as the first international partner in the research and development programme.
The UK announced the Storm development at the Farnborough International Air Show in July 2018, showing a model of the aircraft. The project aims to harness and develop the UK’s capabilities, which are essential for the next generation of air combat capabilities and to maintain the UK’s position as a global leader by understanding the ideas, technology and capabilities of the future.
The future is a joint development by BAE Systems, engine maker Rolls-Royce, missile maker MBDA and Leonardo SpA, the Italian aviation company.
The future air warfare systems must survive in the most challenging combat environments, which means that load, range, speed and maneuverability will be key factors.
British officials expect the aircraft to be equipped with advanced electronic instruments and a range of sensors, including radio frequency, active and passive electro-optical sensors, to detect and intercept incoming threats. Instead, it may use both kinetic and non-kinetic weapons.
Storms, carrying lasers and other energy weapons, advanced sensors and avionics, and various technologies, require unprecedented power demand and heat loads. This means that older engines, which are mainly used to pump thrust, are not up to the task.
That’s why Rollo has been developing next-generation engines for the next generation of fighter jets for the past five years. At its core is an electric-starting generator that is fully embedded in the core of a gas turbine engine, with a new fighter design approach that emphasizes the supply of large amounts of electricity directly from the engine.
Conrad Banks, chief engineer of The Ro.’s Future Program, said: “Embedded electric-start generators will save space and provide the vast amount of power needed for future fighter smares. “The existing aircraft engine generates power through the transmission under the engine to drive the generator. In addition to adding moving parts and complexity, the space outside the engine for transmissions and generators also makes the fuselage larger, which is undesirable in stealth platforms.”
In addition, the engine is equipped with a new energy storage system. There is also an intelligent power and engine control system that can be managed by algorithms that determine in real time how to handle energy demand and reduce heat loads, thereby extending component life. A fully integrated heat management system and a more efficient exhaust reheat system, as well as a lighter, aerodynamically optimized fan made of high-temperature composites, can help achieve this goal.