Testing complete on GE’s proposed F-35 engine upgrade

The engine that would provide the F-35 with 30% more range, greater than 20% faster acceleration
The engine that would provide the F-35 with 30% more range, greater than 20% faster acceleration

The US Air Force and GE have successfully concluded testing the company’s second XA100 adaptive cycle engine at the Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC).

With testing at AEDC completed, GE has accomplished the final major contract milestone of USAF’s Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP), which began in 2016.

“This is the culmination of more than a decade of methodical risk reduction and testing GE has completed with the Air Force across three different adaptive cycle engine programmes,” said David Tweedie, GE Edison Works’ vice president and general manager for Advanced Products. “The engine performance data we gathered at AEDC continued to show the XA100’s transformational capability, while also demonstrating a return on substantial Air Force and taxpayer investment. We now stand ready to transition to an engineering and manufacturing development programme and bring this engine to the field with the F-35 before the end of this decade.”

A screengrab of a recent GE Aviation video on the XA100

GE’s milestones during AETP include:

  • Following competition, awarded one of two AETP contracts, June 2016
  • Detailed design completed with USAF, February 2019
  • Initiation of testing on the world’s first flight-weight, three-stream adaptive cycle engine, most heavily instrumented engine test in GE and U.S. Air Force history in Evendale, Ohio, December 2020
  • Initiation of second engine testing in Evendale, Ohio, August 2021
  • Beginning of first tests of an AETP engine at AEDC, March 2022
  • Completion of AETP testing and data collection at AEDC, August 2022

“This engine isn’t a concept, proposal, or research programme. This is a flight-weight, highly product-relevant engine that would provide the F-35 with 30% more range, greater than 20% faster acceleration, and significant mission systems growth to harness the F-35’s full capabilities for Block 4 upgrades, and beyond,” Tweedie continued. “The XA100 is the only F-35 propulsion modernisation option that has been built, fully tested, and evaluated against Air Force performance targets, and the only option that provides the Air Force the capability it needs to outpace its adversaries for decades to come.”

The XA100 combines three key innovations to deliver a generational change in 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

These innovations increase thrust more than 10%, improve fuel efficiency by 25%, and provide significantly more aircraft heat dissipation capacity, all within the same physical envelope as current propulsion systems. GE’s engine is uniquely designed to fit in the F-35A, as well as the F-35C without modifications to the tailhook. The XA100’s improved fuel efficiency provides a significant reduction in carbon emissions and will operate on any U.S. Air Force-approved Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

The XA100 is a product of GE Edison Works, a business unit dedicated to the research, development, and production of advanced military solutions. This business unit has full responsibility for strategy, innovation, and execution of advanced programmes.

www.geaviation.com

Company

GE Aviation

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