Warplanes: December 13, 2003


Vortex oscillating propulsion systems are a new Russian technology, that enables efficient flight of non-standard aerodynamic platforms. In other words, odd flying shapes. The US Navy is teaming with the  Russian firm, Saratov Aviation, to develop the technology for things like a new class of aircraft for rough field operations, and long distance cargo transport. This cooperation between the two countries could also transform traditional research and development methodologies.

Vortex oscillating propulsion reportedly yields efficient flight of odd-shaped objects. The fall-out for aviation is that as lift is increased, the effect of weight, and therefore thrust required for a particular performance, is decreased, according to Fischer.  The flight test program will be conducted at NAS Patuxent River, MD, the Navys testing ground for new aircraft. Initially, a small UAV will be built and tested to validate new aircraft concepts and propulsion systems. If this succeeds, a larger variant could be pursued.

Vortex oscillation propulsion is a sensitive, proprietary technology to Saratov Aviation. The navy was given some very top-level descriptions,  but not many details.  Saratov wants to develop American markets and is interested long-term in development of some very large aircraft for the American market. 

So far, Saratov has built a small mock-up of the shape that they believe might be of value to the Russian market, and has tested it aerodynamically and done basic systems integration to see if it would move forward. They have some wind tunnel test data that indicates that the concept is valid. 

While the navy has not yet built a test vehicle, it is putting together a program plan and determining how to approach such a joint program.  This is the navy's first development program with Russia, although not the first for the Department of Defense. The likely first steps will be to develop a program plan; build a prototype; fly it; get test data; do an analysis; and show that it is real on that scale. K.B. Sherman


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