From America’s first jet engine to the world’s most produced engine, GE’s legacy powering military aircraft is a strong one. There’s been no shortage of progress and innovation in 2021.
A transformational fighter engine test campaign, major contracts for fighter aircraft engines and support, continued progress in the rotorcraft engine market, ongoing support for GE’s military systems business, which provides electrical power, avionics, and propeller systems for military aircraft, and U.S. Veteran hiring efforts were just a handful of the highlights for GE’s military business in 2021.
A WORLD FIRST: GE’S XA100 ROARS TO LIFE
GE’s XA100 adaptive cycle engine found its way into headlines in 2021 following the conclusion of a successful test campaign. In the process, this revolutionary engine became the world’s first flight-weight, three stream adaptive cycle engine to ever fire up.
“We were exceptionally pleased with how the engine performed throughout the test,” said David Tweedie, GE Edison Works’ General Manager for Advanced Combat Engines. “Bringing a new centerline fighter engine to test for the first time is a challenging endeavor, and this success is a testament to the great team that worked so hard to get us here.”
GE’s engine is uniquely designed to fit both the F-35A and F-35C without any structural modifications to either airframe, enabling better aircraft range, acceleration, and cooling power to accommodate next-generation mission systems.
In December, GE announced the conclusion of phase 1 engine testing, which began in August. The next phase of testing will begin in 2022 at the U.S. Air Force’s Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) in Tullahoma, Tenn.—the capstone of a multi-year technology maturation and risk reduction effort to bring an adaptive cycle engine to full maturity.
GE’s second XA100 prototype completes Phase 1 testing – Inside Defense
F-35 Engine Rivals Prepare for Another Clash – Breaking Defense
ESTABLISHED FIGHTER ENGINE PROGRAMS EARN KEY CONTRACTS, SUPPORT CUSTOMERS GLOBALLY
Fighter engine programs, including the F110, F404, and F414 continued to rack up accomplishments in 2021.
GE’s F110 engine came full circle with U.S. Air Force F-15s, earning a $1.6 billion contract to power the entire planned F-15EX fleet. This key win achieves the goal GE invested in decades ago with to power U.S. Air Force F-15s.
“There’s a lot of pride and excitement around the F110 program at GE. Not only do we have the privilege of delivering a proven, reliable product to the U.S. Air Force, but there’s also the legacy behind the product,” said Shawn Warren, GE’s General Manager for Combat and Trainer Engines. “As the stewards of the F110 and its next chapter, I’m more encouraged than ever that we’re up for the challenge.”
One of aviation’s most versatile engines, the F404, has continued powering the legacy Hornet (F/A-18C/D) fleets for the U.S. Marine Corps, along with international fleets around the world. But two new aircraft will also benefit from F404 power. The U.S. Air Force’s new T-7A Red Hawk trainer progressed toward operational service this year, while HAL placed a 99-engine order for its Tejas single engine fighter fleet. GE also celebrated the 40-year anniversary of the Lockheed Martin F-117’s first flight by taking a look behind the scenes at the secretive F404 production line.
The F404’s successor, the F414 had an equally impressive year. To coincide with the legendary U.S. Navy Blue Angels’ 75th anniversary, the high-flying demonstration squadron began flying F414-powered F/A-18 Super Hornets. It’s GE’s third time powering the Blue Angels. KAI publicly unveiled its indigenous fighter, the KF-21 Boramae, powered by two F414s. Meanwhile, NASA and Lockheed Martin continued progressing toward the X-59 QueSST’s first flight to study quieter supersonic booms. GE will also continue supporting the U.S. Navy’s massive Super Hornet fleet under a potential $1.65 billion component support contract.
General Electric bests Pratt & Whitney in $1.6B F-15EX engine competition – Breaking Defense
South Korea unveils prototype of homegrown KF-X fighter jet – Defense News
ROTORCRAFT ENGINE PROGRAMS CONTINUE PROVIDING A LIFT
“Horsepower is our weapon system and the CH-53K is armed to the teeth.” It’s an apt description for the T408-powered CH-53K King Stallion.
Lt. Col. Luke Frank, CH-53K Detachment Officer in Charge for VMX-1, offered up that assessment following the CH-53K’s first successful fleet mission in early September. Thanks in part to three 7,500 shp T408 engines, the Marine Corps detachment operating the King Stallion recovered an MH-60S that had suffered a hard landing in the California mountains.
It was a highlight for a year that saw the powerful T408 continue progressing with the CH-53K through initial operational test and evaluation.
The T408 also wrapped up a U.S. Army demonstration program that confirmed the feasibility of a T408-powered H-47 Chinook.
GE continued its support for its massive T700 engine fleet, which powers rotorcraft across five U.S. service branches, in addition to international fleets. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) awarded GE two contracts in September totaling more than $1 billion to support T700 turboshaft engine fleets across the U.S. military. The T700 will be succeeded by GE’s all-new T901 engine, which is progressing toward first engine testing in early 2022.
“All GE Aviation engine models and architectures can operate on SAF. Turbofan, turboprop, and yes, any of GE’s turboshaft engines operating today can run on SAF,” said Elissa Lee, CT7 Programs Director. “I anticipate that as the industry aims to reduce emissions further, you’re only going to see and hear more about SAF in the future.”
GE REMAINS COMMITTED TO VETERANS
2021 was a banner year for GE Aviation’s Junior Officer Leadership Program, also known as “JOLP.”
First started at GE Energy in 1996, it’s the only mid-career leadership program that GE offers—most are geared toward recent college graduates or early career professionals—and it is specifically aimed at attracting former officers from all branches of the military who have served between five and 12 years of active duty.
At GE Aviation, where it was introduced in 2007, participants complete three rotations in a prescribed field over two years — either engineering, finance, supply chain, digital technology, commercial engines or military engines, depending on their interests and experience.
JOLP’s success earned the program some hardware this year, as Aviation Week recognized JOLP with a Laureate Award.
“We’re grateful for the recognition from Aviation Week on this unique program and asset within GE,” says Mike Huffman, a global security crisis and risk manager who manages the program. “Through JOLP, members really get a chance to chart their own path and leverage their military experiences to achieve business objectives. We believe this is an unparalleled experience for military veterans looking to make an impact early in their private-sector careers.”
GE was also named a Top Veteran-Friendly Company by U.S. Veterans Magazine.
Chart Your Path: Junior Officer Leadership Program Helps Veterans Kick-start A New Career – The GE Aviation Blog
Aviation Week Editors Announce 2021 Laureate Award Winners – Aviation Week
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 programs.