AFCEA West 2012: L-3 looks at alternative rotary engine development
L-3 Communications is utilising its recent experience conducting taxi trials on a commercial aircraft to demonstrate an electrical drive system to develop a rotary engine that can be powered in a similar way.
'We want to develop a rotary engine that can be used as an auxiliary engine,' Philip Chizek, Staff Specialist, Business Development for Alternative energy at the company said of the R350 heavy fuel rotary engine at the AFCEA West conference in San Diego on 25 January.
'We're trying to work out how to package this rotary engine and pack it as an auxiliary engine. We are a little bit further than the R&D stage,' Chizek continued, 'but we know the technology works'.
'The engine will be perfect for large UAVs such as the Viking and the Shadow,' and the company is also looking into applying the technology to military vehicles to meet the requirement of the army, that 'want to do the silent watch thing', Chizek explained.
'We have already applied this to a demonstration unit in the Stryker [armoured vehicle],' and Chizek confirmed that the company already has an electric drive testbed of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.
He also said that Lockheed Martin has a significant contract award for the JLTV pending, and L-3 hopes to have an electric drive capability on this.
The taxi demonstration in December saw L-3 work with Lufthansa, and involved adding electrical motors on both main landing gears so that while taxiing the Airbus A320 was only powered by electricity and the main engines were not used.
'I think the military really wants to do it, it's just a matter of money and time,' Chizek explained, and he added that the military is always interested in finding ways to reduce fuel consumption.
The R350 is set to enter testing with the US Army, and this element of the company is also upgrading the transmission system on the Bradley armoured vehicle, Chizek confirmed.
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