GE begins testing the industry’s first adaptive cycle engine for the F-35
The US Air Force and General Electric (GE) have begun Phase 2 testing of GE’s second XA100 adaptive cycle engine at the Air Force’s Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) in Tennessee.
Phase 1 testing of this XA100 engine was completed in November 2021 in Evendale, Ohio. Developed by the GE Edison Works Advanced Program Unit, the XA100 is a three-flow adaptive cycle engine demonstrator that can direct air to the third bypass flow for increased fuel efficiency and cooling or to the flows of the core and fan for extra thrust and performance.
GE’s XA100 engine is uniquely designed to fit both the F-35A and F-35C without any structural changes to either airframe, allowing for improved range, acceleration and power from cooling to accommodate next-gen mission systems, while ensuring durability and improved readiness. .
“The XA100 simultaneously delivers transformational improvements in fuel efficiency, thrust, power and thermal management that simply cannot be matched by legacy propulsion systems,” noted David Tweedie, GE Edison Works General Manager for Advanced Combat Engines. “These enhancements will help ensure that the F-35 remains a preeminent fighter platform not just in the near term, but for decades to come, and will help reduce service operational and sustainment costs.”
GE’s engine became the world’s first three-flow, flight weight adaptive cycle engine in December 2020 before launching tests on its second engine in August 2021.
The adaptive engine cycle provides both a high-thrust mode for maximum power and a high-efficiency mode for optimum fuel economy and optimum idle time. The engine’s tri-flow architecture provides a step change in thermal management capability, allowing future mission systems to increase combat effectiveness. Additionally, the engine also uses new heat-resistant materials such as Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMC) to allow for higher turbine temperatures and improved performance.
According to GE, these groundbreaking innovations increase thrust by more than 10 percent, improve fuel efficiency by 25 percent, and provide significantly greater heat dissipation capability than the aircraft. Additionally, the XA100’s improved fuel efficiency provides a significant reduction in carbon emissions and will run on any US 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 advanced program execution.