July 13, 2024

Rolls-Royce and ITP Aero Team Up for Future ‘Loyal Wingman’ Engine

Rolls-Royce’s German unit and ITP Aero partner to develop a new engine for a future ‘loyal wingman’ uncrewed aircraft, leveraging existing technologies for strategic advancement in aerospace.

ITP Aero

Photo Source: https://www.airline92.com/

Rolls-Royce’s German unit and Spain-based ITP Aero have announced a collaboration to develop a new engine based on Rolls-Royce’s Advance2 two-spool core. This engine is intended for a future ‘loyal wingman’ uncrewed aircraft in the 10-tonne-plus class, expected to enter service in the early part of the next decade.

Unveiled at the ILA Berlin air show on 5 June, the developmental powerplant will leverage technologies used in Rolls-Royce’s Pearl-series business jet engines, which produce thrust in the 15,000-18,000lb (67-80kN) range. The partnership is formalized through a memorandum of understanding, signed with representatives from the defence ministries of Germany and Spain, focusing on the design, development, manufacture, and support of the new engine.

This engine is designed to operate alongside a manned sixth-generation fighter, as part of the Airbus Defence & Space “remote carrier” aircraft concept. This aircraft is a crucial element of the tri-national Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program, being developed for France, Germany, and Spain. While Airbus revealed a ‘Wingman’ concept at the show, a propulsion system supplier for this platform has yet to be selected.

Dr. Dirk Geisinger, head of Rolls-Royce Deutschland, emphasized that the loyal wingman engine concept is built on reliable technologies developed over decades in Germany. He highlighted the importance of strong partnerships, noting that collaboration with ITP Aero – which Rolls-Royce owned until 2022 – will strengthen the German-Spanish relationship.

Carlos Alzola, managing director of ITP Aero, expressed that the MoU underscores a commitment to excellence and innovation in European aerospace, contributing to the development of a European propulsion solution. Rene Bernstein, vice-president of defence business development and future programs at Rolls-Royce Deutschland, noted that investments in modern technology over the past five years would benefit the armed forces of both countries, reducing overall investment needed to bring the new engine to market.

Photo Source: https://aviationweek.com/

Bernstein mentioned that 90% of existing technology could be reused, allowing the new engine to be available and certified within six years. Alvaro Santodomingo Martell, executive director of ITP’s defence business unit, highlighted that the pact builds on over 20 years of collaboration, aiming to push forward a truly European solution for a potential ‘Loyal Wingman’ over 10 tonnes.

While the exact thrust-class of the engine was not specified, it is expected to be at the upper end of the Pearl family, potentially over 18,200lb of thrust. An afterburning capability is also being considered to meet demands for supersonic speeds. The companies are targeting a global market for this future powerplant, with workshare and specific technical requirements still to be determined based on customer needs.

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