Aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce showed off its Advanced Military Fan concept for the first time at Aero India 2015.
Rob Biggs, Chief Project Engineer – Strategic Business Development at Rolls-Royce told StratPost that the new concept is a spin-off from the hollow titanium blisk (bladed disk) of the Trent 700 engine, which powers the Airbus A330 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) aircraft, which has been selected by the Indian Air Force (IAF) for its transport/tanker requirement.
He also said the development is also derived from work that went into the Rolls-Royce LiftSystem for the Pratt and Whitney F-135 vertical lift engine for the B-variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). This development is distinct from other similar innovations in engine fans by Rolls-Royce where carbon composite has been used instead of titanium.
Biggs explained that the hollow titanium is filled with visco-elastic material to limit vibration unlike in the Trent 700 zigzag structural component inside and a super plastic material over the titanium.
Biggs says the hollow titanium brings several advantages to an engine, which includes a significant weight saving of around 30 percent. It also brings better air compression efficiency with a better pressure ratio and could even allow for a reduction in the number of blades, according to Biggs.
In addition, it enables greater tolerance for distortion and lower observability of the fan from radar.
Since the fan is so new (it’s been displayed for the first time), there are obviously no customers for it, yet. But Biggs thinks it would not only serve the requirements of newer, more advanced engines, but could also be retrofitted on existing engines, depending on customer requirements, leading to greater capabilities for existing military aircraft.