The Russians continue to dream of returning to the Cold War, when the size and power of USSR aviation was an important bargaining chip in the international arena. One of the manifestations of these dreams may be the project of supersonic, futuristic PAK TA transporters. Is it even possible to go?
PAK TA – Russians want to have modern and very fast transport planes
The portal Russia Today last year published the first mention of plans to create a new, state-of-the-art PAK TA transport aircraft. According to the assurances of the people responsible for the project is to be an aircraft built on the basis of the aerodynamic wing of the wing. Capable of reaching speeds above 2000 km / h. The planned range of the planned aircraft is to be at least 7,000 kilometers and carry up to 200 tonnes of cargo at this distance. By comparison, the largest transport plane in the world, An-225 takes up to 250 on cargo. PAK TA would become one of the largest aircraft in history.
Initial rumors say that up to 80 of the PAK TA aircraft would be built by 2024. This would allow FR to be transported to any place on the ground in tens of hours. Interestingly, the aircraft would use a more unspecified hybrid drive. Probably a combination of two turbofan engines and one electric motor.
Why the Russians such a plane?
The largest currently used transport aircraft (10 in number) is An-124 “Ruslan”, which is able to carry as much as 150 tons of cargo. There are also 120 Il-76 transport aircrafts in the fleet of Russian Federation Air Force transporters. These, however, are capable of carrying much smaller loads up to 60 tonnes. However, the expansion plans of the Kremlin army require, however, aircraft capable of carrying as many heavy loads as possible (including tanks, armored personnel carriers). Also loud is the fact that a large transport will be needed to transport the Russian jewel of their army: T-14 Armata’s state-of-the-art tank.
The An-124 would have been ideal here, but it is now being manufactured by Aviant Ukrainian Airways, and it is known that Russian-Ukrainian relations are strained. Russians also like to have control over the aircraft they produce for their needs and strongly support their national aviation industry. No wonder they decided to design and produce their own design of this type.
Will Russia ever be able to produce such planes?
However, many experts have considerable doubts about the PAK TA project’s assumptions. Especially since from design and construction point of view PAK TA construction can be even tougher and much more expensive than the construction of eg PAK FA / T-50 supermodel. An airplane capable of over-speeding a wing would be an innovative project. Even the American B-2 Spirit or F-117 Super Bowl was not designed to exceed the Mach number of 1. Also, the idea of using a motor / electric motors seems unrealistic for the Russian industry. Even the richest American companies are just getting used to the use of electric / hybrid drives in airplanes and are usually limited to small unit tests. None of the greats have taken up even bigger projects of this type. It is hard to believe that the Russians would have to go to what they are afraid to take, for example Americans. The country’s economic crisis, where more and more people are struggling to meet basic living needs, is not a good place to set up a state-of-the-art, pioneering aircraft. Especially since the project would have to absorb at least a billion dollars.
Absurdly look forward to producing 80 aircraft until 2024. This would mean that the first test pieces would have to be created as early as 2018-2019, which seems impossible. In the end, still no details were revealed and no producer was selected.
If the production of PAK TA would ever move, the chances of obtaining 80 machines by the Russian Federation Air Force are rather around 2030, assuming that the program will not encounter too many difficulties …
Russian aviation pride or media propaganda? A few details to look out for
The conceptual pictures look really impressive. PAK TA aircraft on the presented projects looks extremely futuristic. He wonders, however, some details that can be seen already in these prospectus illustrations.
Huge air intakes will definitely not help speeding up the sound. In aircraft capable of exceeding the speed of sound, rather small, divergent inlets are used. These large inlets shown in the illustrations do not fit into an airplane that would run at 2000 km / h. Doubts also arise on the wing air outlets. The vast majority of airplanes capable of over-speeding the sound are used by the afterburner. Illustrations do not indicate his presence. It is also worth to pay attention to the angle of the slop of the wings. PAK TA has a relatively small slant of wings, and supersonic aircraft usually have either a large slant or the presence of a variable geometry system. Looking at the illustrations it is hard to see any of these qualities.
Doubts also arouse the engine. The attached visualizations show that the PAK TA engine is equipped with large diameter intake fans, which may suggest that the designer’s idea is to find a turbofan engine there. All engines used so far on planes that were supposed to exceed the speed of sound were clearly smaller in diameter. In addition to engines with such a large fan diameter (judging by the scale of the image), the Russian aerospace industry simply is not there. If what you see in the drawings is true, then the Russians would have to build this type of drive. And this is another billion rubles and months of work.