French DGA, Safran Complete Test of New Turbine Concept for FCAS Aircraft

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The French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) completed a major test for the development of the engine for the future air combat system (FCAS) the European collaborative stealth aircraft project.

As part of the Turenne defense technology project led by the DGA, a prototype derived from the engine of the Rafale fighter plane was tested on the test bench.

The test required 5 years of preparation in order to develop the technologies useful for the future engine of the FCAS combat aircraft.

Initiated in 2015 by the DGA and entrusted to Safran, the Turenne program consists of two phases. The 1st phase lasted 5 years, under the supervision of DGA Project Engineering at the Balard site in Paris, to create, digitally test, and produce an innovative turbine concept, the DFA said in a release.

This revolutionary turbine has also been the subject of international patents with engineers from the DGA as co-inventors.

The 2nd phase, started in 2019, allows the prototype to be tested in the field using the Thermocolor technique, with the objective of comparing the thermal map obtained in real life with the data from the simulations carried out digitally in phase 1.

This test is specific by the technique used, called Thermocolor, which requires heat-sensitive paint; applied to the blades of the engine’s high-pressure turbine blades, it measures the temperature thanks to a color change. This paint is very fragile: by its composition, it can only undergo a single thermal stress. Then it loses its properties.

Once the Thermocolor results have been analysed, a so-called “endurance” test will be carried out over several months, again at DGA Propellant Testing. The objective is to impose accelerated aging on these new engine turbine blades, to check their lifespan and their ability to guarantee a high level of operational performance over long periods of time.

At the same time, the DGA Techniques aeronautiques expertise and test center in Balma, near Toulouse, is working with Safran on the development of new ceramic materials resistant to high temperatures. It will also carry out, in the coming years, tests on new generation metallic materials which will make it possible to characterize their resistance.

Each of these advances is a unique and necessary piece of a puzzle of technological innovations. Combined within a latest-generation engine, they will make it possible to achieve the level of performance expected from the FCAS program.