GE Aviation has been awarded a $394 million contract from the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to provide J85 engine supplies for the United States Air Force and Navy. The work will be carried out by GE Aviation’s facility in Lynn, Massachusetts, and across GE’s U.S. supply chain sites.
“We are pleased to receive this significant award and remain committed to extending the service life of today’s military assets,” said Al DiLibero, GE Aviation’s Vice President and General Manager of Medium Combat & Trainer Engines.
“We’re very excited about supporting the U.S. Air Force and Navy with a reliable engine that has been flown by generations of pilots, proudly built by generations of GE employees,” he added.
The DLA classifies the new contract as part of its Captains of Industry (COI) program, which uses Supplier Capability Contracts to streamline the procurement process.
Since entering service in 1959, the J85 engine has reliably powered military aircraft including the T-38, F-5, T-2C, and A-37B, accumulating more than 75 million hours. More than 13,000 engines have been produced and the J85 operates in 28 countries.
The J85-powered T-38 is the USAF’s primary pilot training aircraft. The single-shaft axial-flow turbojet engine with an 8-stage compressor section and 2-stage turbine gives the T-38A a top speed of Mach 1.3.
In 2001, the USAF awarded a $601 million contract for hardware kits to upgrade 1,202 J85 engines for the T-38. The upgraded kit includes a redesigned compressor rotor and stator assembly, an improved HPT, and new afterburner liner. The J85-powered T-38 is expected to remain in operational service until 2040 and beyond.
Meanwhile, GE Aviation also announced it delivered in May the first F414-GE-400K engine to Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd (KAI) for South Korea’s next-generation indigenous fighter, known as the KF-X.
Developed for the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF), the F414-powered KF-X will deliver significantly greater mission capability, extended combat radius and longer lifespan compared to current aircraft.
South Korea’s Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd (KAI) selected GE Aviation in May 2016 to supply F414-GE-400K engines for the KF-X fighter. The multi-role KF-X aircraft, a $7.4 billion project, is being designed and built by KAI. The KF-X aircraft will replace Korea’s F-4D/E Phantom II and F-5E/F Tiger II fleet.
The development program is scheduled to be completed in 2026, which includes the production of 15 F414 flight test engines and six prototype fighters by 2021. Flight testing will occur in 2023. 120 KF-X aircraft are scheduled for production serving the South Korean armed forces. GE Aviation will provide 240 F414 production engines plus spares.
GE has partnered with South Korea many times to power aircraft in their inventory. GE’s F404 engines currently power South Korea’s T-50 Golden Eagle, a high-performance supersonic trainer developed with KAI for the ROKAF. GE’s T700 turboshaft engines power the Korean utility helicopter Surion. Additionally, GE’s F110 engines power the ROKAF’s F-15K aircraft.
GE’s F414 engine went into service in 1998 and has flown more than 4.6 million flight hours with more than 1,750 engines delivered. In addition to the KF-X, the F414 powers Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, Saab’s JAS 39E/F Gripen, India’s Tejas Mark 2, and Lockheed Martin and NASA’s X-59 Quiet Supersonic Transport.
GE Aviation, an operating unit of GE, is a world-leading provider of jet and turboprop engines, components and integrated systems for commercial, military, business and general aviation aircraft. GE Aviation has a global service network to support these offerings.