Did it make sense for Rostec’s top manager to hunt for non-existent secrets of General Electric?
Remind, this week the director of business development of the United Engine Corporation (UEC) Alexander Korshunov was arrested in Italy, whom the United States is trying to accuse of industrial espionage. Specifically, in the theft of the secrets of General Electric engines on which Boeing airliners fly. The US is demanding the extradition of a top manager at Rostec.
This is the second case in the history of modern Russia, when American intelligence agencies try to get important information about their potential adversary in this way.
The first was 15 years ago when, at the request of the United States, ex-Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov was arrested in Switzerland, accused of misappropriating American money. It is clear that once in the United States, he would be faced with a choice – to rot in prison, having a serious term of imprisonment, or to make a deal with the investigation and share secret information with Washington. And the Ministry of Atomic Energy is more than enough.
The situation was so critical that LDPR party leader Zhirinovsky even suggested stealing Adamov. And if it doesn’t work out – eliminate.
Fortunately, Adamov did not have to be killed. Switzerland returned Adamov to Russia, where a criminal case was opened against the ex-minister.
Of course, Korshunov is not so competent in state secrets. However, he seems to have sufficient military secrets, and serious ones. Because UEC creates engines not only for civilian airliners, but also for fighters, bombers, a wide range of missiles, including intercontinental, warships. All this relates to the military-industrial complex, the activity of which is disclosed in minimal volumes. At the same time, American designers have something to profit from in the UEC and in the field of creating engines for civil aviation.
What specific “military secrets” could Korshunov have stolen from “general electricians”? And did he need it?
To do this, at least in general terms, you should find out what is a turbofan engine (TVRD), what are its advantages and on which aircraft it is rational to use it.
A turbojet engine is also called a turbofan dual-circuit engine (turbofan engine). In general terms, it is a conventional turbojet engine (turbojet engine), placed, relatively speaking, in a pipe of a larger diameter.
The problem is that during its operation a significant part of the combustion energy is spent not on creating traction, but on servicing the engine, that is, on the rotation of the turbine and compressors.
In a turbojet engine, a turbojet engine is coaxially placed, relatively speaking, in a “casing pipe”. At the inlet of the turbojet engine there is a suction fan, the diameter of which is equal to the diameter of the “pipe”. The fan, which rotates due to the rotation of the turbojet turbine, drives air through two circuits – internal and external. The movement of air along the external circuit also creates reactive thrust at the outlet.
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Moreover, it is external traction that is the main mover. The ratio of the volumes of the external flow to the internal air flow is denoted as the bypass ratio. The higher it is, the higher the engine efficiency. And, accordingly, the more economical is fuel consumption.
Well, and quite so schematically, the turbojet engine is a large barrel with a diameter of up to 3 meters, tapering behind the nozzle. Inside this barrel is a turbojet engine that rotates the fan located in front of the barrel. And the air flow between the turbojet engine and the barrel walls creates the main jet thrust.
The introduction of the external circuit required the complication of the internal circuit, that is, the turbojet engine. A second low-pressure turbine is installed in it, which is located on the same shaft as the fan, that is, a second shaft also appears. And in some TVRDs, a three-shaft scheme with a medium-pressure compressor is also used to increase engine efficiency.
A gearbox may be introduced between the low pressure turbine and the fan. Due to this, the fan speed is reduced.
And now – attention!
The Americans claim that Korshunov in 2013-2014 received secret information about the design of the gearbox, which is used by the American company General Electric to produce its turbofan engines, through the Italian “accomplice”.
However, among the world leaders in engine building, only one company – Pratt & Whitney, also an American company, uses gearboxes in the designs of its turbojet engines. All the rest do without them. Actually, this is the global trend of the gradual abandonment of gearboxes. They, of course, have advantages, but disadvantages outweigh. These include the technological complexity of the implementation, overweight, reduction of the overhaul period, additional heating of the structure, more, though not much, fuel consumption.
GE has no gearboxes. So if Korshunov was supplied with any information, it was, as they say in certain circles, a pure skullduggery.
And now the most interesting thing in this story is evidence of how competent the FBI is, which has actively connected to the “catching of a Russian spy.” In the acts that are being charged, Korshunov is told that he criminally obtained information about the gearbox in order to use it in the design of the Russian PD-14 engine.
But in PD-14 there is no gearbox. And, therefore, Korshunov did not have to take risks in order to get what nobody needs in the UEC. And there was no need to spend money. And every spy is forced to spend money. At least to bribe informants. This is earlier, much earlier, when the communist idea was strong, Western specialists could cooperate – and they collaborated! – in the name of this idea.
So all the charges of commercial espionage brought against Korshunov are sewn with white thread.
PD-14 is ready. He went through the entire test cycle. And the UEC Perm Motors enterprise has already transferred two engines to the Irkutsk Aviation Plant for installation on the MS-21 medium-haul passenger aircraft. The engine confirmed all the characteristics. And many of them surpass the performance of the world’s best engines of the same class. Thus, specific fuel consumption is 10-15% lower. Less and operational costs – by 14−17%. Lower price. In this connection, the PD-14 can become a serious competitor in the foreign market for engines of the “Big Three” – General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce.
The question is: is Perm Engine capacity enough to produce?