Khimki NPO Energomash signed a contract with the American company Orbital ATK for the supply of four additional RD-181 rocket engines for American carrier rockets of the Antares type. The term of execution is up to 2021. For a Russian company, this means capacity utilization, since the US remains the only market for engines of this class. Head of Roskosmos State Corporation Dmitry Rogozin, responding to a question from Kommersant, said that, in spite of political disagreements, the Russian Federation does not intend to sever "mutually beneficial cooperation" with the United States.
The fact that NPO Energomash signed a contract with American company Orbital ATK for the delivery of four liquid-propellant rocket engines RD-181, Kommersant was told by two top managers of the space industry enterprises. According to them, the negotiations took place against the backdrop of uneasy relations between Russia and the US, but "they could not end otherwise": "The mutual benefit of this agreement is obvious to everyone." The contract was signed last summer (its amount is not disclosed), the term of its execution - until 2021. In "Energomash" from the official comments, "Kommersant" refused yesterday.
The first information on the existing option for the delivery of rocket engines in the US appeared in August, when the general director of NPO Energomash, Igor Arbuzov, told TASS about this without specifying the details. "Work on the supply of engines in the US - this is a permanent job. We contract with the shoulder for three years, "- said the top manager. Earlier, in an interview with RIA Novosti, he told about the conclusion of a contract with the US company United Launch Alliances (ULA), which involves the delivery of additional rocket engines RD-180. Another Khimki engine, the RD-181, is supplied for the Antares launch vehicle developed by the same American Orbital and designed to launch loads of up to eight tons into the orbit (primarily the delivery of cargo to the ISS).
The first test launch of Antares took place in 2013, and the company began to purchase RD-181 after the incident with another engine - NK-33 development of OAO Kuznetsov (see "Kommersant" on October 30, 2014).
The situation with deliveries of Energomash products in the US is one of the most sensitive topics of Russian-American cooperation. After the entry of Crimea into Russia in 2014 and the subsequent imposition of sanctions against the Russian Federation, the US Congress constantly criticized the Pentagon for using Russian engines on American missiles, even before the ban on their use was imposed after 2019. Then, however, the Pentagon has achieved the lifting of restrictions, since the US will not be able to create its engines until at least 2025 (according to Russian experts). Immediately after that, the ULA consortium, at the request of the US military, ordered from Energomash 20 additional RD-180s, which are mounted on Atlas-type launch vehicles. However, in the spring of this year, calls for not selling the US to Russian missile engines were already heard from the Russian side: in the State Duma, for example, they announced the preparation of a bill limiting the range of possible buyers in such a way that the US did not fall into it.
Yesterday, the head of Roskosmos State Corporation Dmitry Rogozin, answering a question from Kommersant, asked after the final conference dedicated to the 110th anniversary of the birth of Academician Valentin Glushko, said: Russia will continue to ship missile engines to the US, if the American partners want it. "Despite the massive pressure exerted by customers of these engines in the US by the ruling American class and Congress, they have not yet been created," Rogozin said, calling it "mutual dependence." "This is profitable for us, because it brings the currency that we invest in re-equipment and the creation of new enterprises," the head of the state corporation said. And the head of Energomash Igor Arbuzov stressed that negotiations are being conducted not only with the US, but also with China and with other partner countries (Argentina, Brazil, India among them).
According to a source from Kommersant close to the leadership of Roskosmos, while the dependence on US purchases of rocket engines is critical for Energomash: none of the other countries is simply ready to start purchasing serial (more than 10 units) engine lots. Single supplies, in turn, do not exactly meet the interests of Russia: for example, in the government and the Security Council it is believed that the same China expects to purchase a minimum lot of conditional RD-180 for the subsequent development of its counterparts. Dmitry Rogozin, incidentally, noted in a conversation with Kommersant that with the signing of a firm agreement with China, it will be necessary to sign documents on the protection of intellectual property.