Northrop Grumman Corp. and Rolls-Royce have
signed an agreement with the French marine engineering company DCN to market and produce the WR-21 marine gas turbine engine
. The business agreement, augmented by a license agreement between Northrop Grumman and DCN signed
earlier this year, establishes a world-class team for the intercooled and recuperated WR-21.
The WR-21 engine successfully completed the development phase of the U.S. Navy-, Royal Navy
-, and French Navy
-funded full-scale development program in February of this year. As a part of the completed
development, the engine accumulated approximately 2,100 fired test hours including a 500-hour endurance test in Pyestock, England, in 1998 and a 500-hour endurance test at the U.S. Navy's test facility in Philadelphia, Pa., in late 1999.
The final phase of the WR-21 program has now commenced, with DCN's facility in Indret performing the 3,000-hour endurance qualification in accordance with Memorandum of Understandings between the U.S. and U.K. and between the U.S. and France. On final completion of this phase in early 2002 and the subsequent shock test, the engine will be fully qualified for service under standards set by the U.S. Navy and will meet or exceed standards set by other navies in the world.
In Indret, the first engine operation began in mid-October, and will be followed by the 3,000-hour endurance phase in late November. A full range of operating profiles will be undertaken that will strengthen the successful test record already established. This lengthy testing in Indret will serve to further reduce the risk normally associated with a new technology introduction, reaffirming the reliability and fuel economy for WR-21, thus resulting in one of the world's most extensively tested engines prior to entering service.