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Future defence propulsion technologies are key to capability


Advances in propulsion technology will continue to have a strong influence on the future of defence capabilities, Rolls-Royce Chief Engineer Conrad Banks said today at the UK-Japan Aerospace Forum in Tokyo.

Rolls-Royce, the second largest military aero engine manufacturer in the Western world*, is also the largest military aero engine maker in Europe and powers around 25 per cent of the world’s military fleet, including around 900 aero engines in service in Japan.

Mr Banks, Chief Engineer – Advanced Projects, Rolls-Royce Defence Aerospace, said smaller, lighter and more efficient gas turbines will be responsible for greater systems capability for a range of defence requirements.

These will include unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs), advanced military transport aircraft and high-speed vehicles. Improved gas turbines will provide increased range and reliability, in addition to reduced operational costs.

Other key technologies, particularly for UCAVs and other stealth applications, will be low observability and installation technology.

Mr Banks said that integrated power systems will enable intelligent generation, management and distribution of the high levels of electrical power future platforms will require.

Rolls-Royce supplies defence aero engines to more customers (160) in more countries (103) than any other manufacturer. Its biggest defence customer is the US Department of Defense, to which it supplies engines for nearly 2,800 fixed and rotary-wing aircraft currently in service with all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.

These include such mission-critical aircraft as: the RQ-4A Global Hawk in service with the US Air Force; the AV8B Harrier and the V-22 Osprey in service with the US Marine Corps; the T-45 Goshawk and P-3 Orion in service with the US Navy; the OH-58 Kiowa and Kiowa Warrior and MH-6 Little Bird helicopters in service with the US Army; and C-130 Hercules transports with all branches.

Rolls-Royce is a critical team member on the Lightning II F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) the world’s largest ever fighter programme.

In co-operation with General Electric and Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce provides advanced engine technology solutions to meet the propulsion needs of the aircraft, including all vertical lift components for the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant.

In Europe, Rolls-Royce is member of the EUROJET consortium providing the EJ200 engine for the Eurofighter Typhoon, and the Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM 322 engine powers the NH-90 and EH101 helicopters.

*Market position statements are based on figures from third-party AVSOFT and reflect installed engines on operational aircraft, excluding the CIS and China.


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