GE’s sixth generation fighter engine enters next testing phase

Testing of GE’s second XA100 adaptive cycle fighter jet engine has started as part of the US Air Force’s Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP).

Testing began on 26th August at GE’s Evendale, Ohio, altitude test facility. This is GE’s final planned prototype engine as part of AETP.

The XA100 is a product of GE Edison Works, a business unit dedicated to R&D and production of advanced military solutions
The XA100 is a product of GE Edison Works, a business unit dedicated to R&D and production of advanced military solutions

GE’s first XA100 engine began tests in December 2020, marking the world’s first ever run of a flight-weight three-stream adaptive cycle engine.

Tests successfully validated the engine’s ability to deliver transformational propulsion to current aircraft like the F-35 and future platforms like USAF's Next Generation Air Dominance programme, which includes the service's plan for a sixth generation fighter jet.

The XA100-GE-100 engine combines three key innovations to deliver transformational combat propulsion performance:

  • An adaptive engine cycle that provides both a high-thrust mode for maximum power and a high-efficiency mode for optimum fuel savings and loiter time
  • A third-stream architecture that provides a step-change in thermal management capability, enabling future mission systems for increased combat effectiveness
  • Extensive use of advanced component technologies, including ceramic matrix composites (CMC), polymer matrix composites (PMC), and additive manufacturing
Another view of the prototype engine
Another view of the prototype engine

These innovations increase thrust 10%, improve fuel efficiency by 25%, and provide significantly more aircraft heat dissipation capacity, all within the same physical envelope as current propulsion systems. The XA100’s improved fuel efficiency provides significant reduction in carbon emissions. The engine will also operate on any US Air Force-approved biofuels.

“The US Air Force and Congress have invested more than $4 billion in adaptive cycle engine development over the past 14 years to mature its associated technologies. We’re confident this phase of the program will significantly reduce risk and prepare GE for a low-risk engineering and manufacturing development program, consistent with Air Force objectives,” said David Tweedie, GE Edison Works’ General manager for advanced combat engines. “Getting our second prototype engine into the test cell means we’re one step closer to getting this transformational technology into the hands of the warfighter.”

Testing on the second XA100 will allow GE to continue gathering test data and further mature the engine’s advanced componentry and three-stream design.

Once first phase testing is complete in Evendale, GE plans to test the engine at USAF’s Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) to finish out all planned AETP testing activities.

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