Russia and UAE to jointly develop supersonic aircraft

Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and the United Arab Emirates’ investment fund Mubadala will create a joint venture to develop a supersonic airliner, according to Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov.

“For now, we are optimistic [about the time frame for a first concept to be revealed]: before the end of 2021, but maybe the beginning of 2022,” Manturov said at the IDEX 2021 defense convention in Abu Dhabi. “The key parameters have mostly been set: the speed will be Mach 1.5 to 1.8, taking into consideration that the flight time at a speed of Mach 1.8 is limited to four hours.” 

An 8-seat business jet and a 30-seat commercial airliner are being studied. Manturov said the first delivery could take place in 2027. While no other specification was given on the aircraft, Manturov said the project dated back to 2019 and received an initial investment of $100 million. 

Two Russian supersonic civilian aircraft are reportedly being studied. Zukhovsky’s Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute started its own program. In parallel, the manufacturer Tupolev has been considering the conversion of its Tu-160 supersonic strategic bomber into a passenger airliner. 

“Everything [with the Tu-160 – ed. note] is running like clockwork,”  Russian President Vladimir Putin commented in 2019. “So why not also create a supersonic passenger plane?” The Tu-160 can reach a top speed of Mach 2.1 (2,600 kilometers per hour), which would fit the requirement described by Manturov.

In the early 2000s, EADS Space Transportation (now Airbus Defense and Space) considered the conversion of the MiG-31 fighter jet as a cheap solution for space tourism.


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