An industry team led by Northrop Grumman Corporation's Marine Systems business unit has completed the US Navy's development phase of the Intercooled Recuperated (ICR) WR-21 marine gas turbine engine program. Design Review 5, conducted by the Navy, marked the culmination of an eight-year development programme aimed at providing a more economical engine for future surface ships. This design review validated a successful 500-hour operational test of the engine at The Naval Surface Warfare Development Centre in Philadelphia and confirmed that the targeted 25 percent fuel saving was achieved.
Unlike conventional marine gas turbine engines, Northrop Grumman's WR-21 features a recuperator downstream of the power turbine that recovers energy from the exhaust gas to increase fuel efficiency. This translates into extended ship range for a given fuel capacity, more unrefuelled time on-station, or reduced fuel storage requirements for a given range, thereby enabling more space for additional weapons payloads. Because the engine can achieve near maximum efficiency at partial power, the ICR is ideal for electric drive configurations for future Navy combatants. The WR-21 is also a candidate engine for European advanced combatants, with both the United Kingdom and France investing in its development.
Partnering with the US Navy are the French and British navies, which also seek fuel economy in their new warship construction programmes. With development now complete, the production engine will begin endurance qualifications later this year in Indret, France, at the French Navy's Direction des Constructions Navales (DCN) test facility. Following these qualification tests and a US Navy standard shock test, the ICR will be ready for final assembly and integration at a Northrop Grumman-managed facility located in the Philadelphia Naval Business Centre.