Rutland’s GE wins $1 billion military contract
Vermont Business Magazine In a development with implications for future work at GE Aviation Rutland, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) Thursday announced that the US Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC), based at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio, late Thursday awarded GE Aviation a $1 billion contract to continue development of its three-stream adaptive cycle technology for the Air Force’s next generation of fighter engines. The long-awaited announcement follows an intense competition for the project.
Leahy is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and of its Defense Subcommittee, which handles the Senate’s work in writing annual defense budget bills. He has been a longtime supporter of GE Aviation’s work performed in Rutland. Leahy has supported funding for the Air Force to make the technology investments needed to ensure that the nation maintains its competitive advantage in military propulsion. The Rutland facility primarily produces jet engine blades and vanes and is expected to have a significant role when the adaptive cycle engine enters production.
Leahy said: “This was an intense competition that draws on the skill, the workforce and the reputation of GE Aviation’s team in Rutland. The advances these engines will bring hold great potential to make our aircraft both more powerful and more fuel efficient, while assuring continued US military superiority in combat aviation. Like all Vermonters, I am incredibly proud of the men and women at GE Rutland for their hard work and innovation that directly contributed to GE Aviation’s selection for this contract. I see and feel their enthusiasm, capabilities and commitment each time I visit them.”
Nate Beach, plant manager for GE Aviation’s Rutland operations, said: “Senator Leahy is a great champion for the men and women in the US military and at GE Aviation Rutland. He has ensured funding to position GE to continue to power the US military’s most advanced combat jets and maintain future production here in Rutland.”
The GE plant continues to employ more than 1000 Vermonters in Rutland. Leahy emphasized that the contract helps solidify future work for GE Aviation Rutland, which has developed a distinguished reputation because of the plant’s skilled workforce. Leahy noted in particular the plant’s investment in the professional development of its workers. For many years the apprentice programs embraced by the plant in Rutland have produced highly skilled workers, capable of manufacturing the most technologically advanced engine components in the world. Leahy said that GE’s investment in the future of its workforce contributes directly to the plant’s lasting success.
GE Aviation completed its AETD Preliminary Design Review (PDR) in March 2015. This key review was held with leaders from the US Air Force, Navy and NASA following testing of the industry’s first and only adaptive-cycle, three-stream engine in 2014. GE’s adaptive cycle, three-stream engine extends aircraft operating range by more than 30%, improves fuel consumption by 25% and increases thrust by more than 10%. With the AETP and follow-on development programs, GE’s engine could be ready to power the US military’s most advanced combat jets.
Fixed cycle engines powering today’s military aircraft are limited, or “fixed,” to one capability: either maximum power or fuel efficiency, which restricts aircraft performance and increases sustainment costs. GE’s AETP engine differs from fixed cycle engines in its ability to alter from a high-bypass, fuel-efficient engine similar to those deployed on tanker/transport aircraft to a low-bypass, high-performance engine needed for fighter jets. The adaptive feature is combined with an additional source of air, called a “third stream of cooled air,” that can be used to further increase thrust, improve fuel efficiency and dramatically reduce the aircraft heat load.
After a joint GE/DoD investment of more than $1 billion in its development, GE’s AETP engine is uniquely capable of meeting or exceeding DoD performance targets. It incorporates the industry’s most extensive use of advanced manufacturing and heat-resistant material technologies initially developed for GE’s commercial jet engines, such as ceramic matrix composites (CMC) and additively manufactured components pioneered on the best-selling LEAP and GE9X engines. These innovations–which further reduce fuel consumption and lower aircraft operating weight–enable the engine to meet or exceed the military’s aggressive performance targets with field-proven, low-cost technologies.
GE Aviation, an operating unit of GE (NYSE: GE), is a world-leading provider of jet, turboshaft 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.
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