It started in 2018 with a statement from the very top. During the test flight of the Tupolev Tu-160 supersonic bomber, Vladimir Putin explained that he also saw a perspective for a new civilian supersonic jet. Referring to the time saved by supersonic flights, the Russian President said: “There are big companies that could operate such a jet”.
The state-controlled aviation consortium UAC said they were already working on a supersonic project. And the then head of the state airline Aeroflot, Vitaly Savelyev, said: “We would like to get a supersonic jet.”
In contrast to the times of Concorde and Tupolev Tu-144, it is now possible to operate a supersonic passenger jet economically thanks to new technologies and composite materials.
In the summer of 2020, the aircraft manufacturer Tupolev, which belongs to UAC, and the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute Tsagi revealed the first details. The Institute explained that the civil supersonic aircraft should have space for 30 to 50 passengers. Tupolev wrote that the planned jet would reach up to Mach 2 – twice the speed of sound – and have a range of up to 8,000 kilometers. It is primarily intended for “business executives, high-ranking politicians and anyone for whom time is an absolute priority”.
Anatoli Serdyukov, Head of Aviation at UAC parent company Rostec, emphasized that a business jet is being developed. “The cost of supersonic flight is much higher than that of conventional aircraft,” Serdyukov said. Therefore, one aims at business jets.
Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Western sanctions against the country are likely to complicate the work of Russian researchers. In the summer of 2022, however, an adviser to President Putin said that the plans were being adhered to.
Now it is clear: Russia is getting help from China. Tsagi recently announced that a bilateral international project with his participation received funding from the Russian Science Foundation. “The research partner is the Chinese Aerodynamic Research Center CARDC.”
The aim of the project is to jointly develop a wing for a civilian supersonic aircraft – with a special focus on the acoustics.
“The plan is for the aircraft to meet noise standards for subsonic aircraft,” the Tsagi said. In the area of wings in particular, however, this is a challenge that requires further research.
They therefore want to develop a grand piano model in Russian-Chinese cooperation and test it in the acoustic chambers of Tsagi and CARDC.
This article was written by Timo Nowack
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The original of this article “It started with a Putin dream! Russia builds supersonic jet thanks to China’s help” comes from aeroTelegraph.