Air Force completes testing with GE of new ‘adapative’ jet engine

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Thomas Gnau

Journal-News, Hamilton, Ohio

The U.S. Air Force and GE have completed testing on GE’s second XA100 adaptive cycle engine at the Air Force’s Arnold Engineering Development Complex in Tennessee.

GE called it “the final major contract milestone of the Air Force’s Adaptive Engine Transition Program.”

Last month, the Air Force picked five companies to develop prototypes of a next-generation fighter jet engine, and GE — a big Ohio and regional employer — was among them.

GE Co. was awarded a contract with a program ceiling of $975 million to work in the prototype phase of the Next Generation Adaptive Propulsion program.

There are just two adaptive engines in existence today — the GE XA100 and Pratt & Whitney’s XA101.

The Propulsion Directorate at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, has more than 600 employees managing more than 22,000 engines, including this program. The directorate launched the program in 2016 by awarding contracts to General Electric Aviation and Pratt & Whitney.

“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 programs,” David Tweedie, GE Edison Works’ vice president and general manager for advanced products, said in a statement this week.

The company is ready to transition to engineering and manufacturing “and bring this engine to the field with the F-35 before the end of this decade,” Tweedie added.

“This engine isn’t a concept, proposal or research program,” he said.

Early and second-round testing on what GE says is the world’s first flight-weight, three-stream adaptive cycle engine happened in GE’s Evendale facility last year and this year.

The engine would give the F-35 30% more range, greater than 20% faster acceleration, with strengthened thrust and fuel efficiency, GE said.

The soon-to-be renamed GE Aerospace is a big employer in Southwestern Ohio. Pre-pandemic, the company had about 1,500 employees working in four Dayton-area facilities, sites which saw a $1 billion total annual investment. About 9,000 Ohioans work for the company in total.

GENERAL ELECTRIC PROPULSION SIMULATOR NASA Identifier: C-1994-3410

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