The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded a $437m contract modification to General Electric subsidiary GE Aviation to continue the maturation of adaptive cycle engines.

Awarded by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the contract modification will see the execution of next-generation adaptive propulsion risk reduction for potential air superiority applications.

The company successfully designed and tested several three-stream adaptive fan configurations between 2007 and last year. These include an advanced compressor rig, two full-scale core engines and a full three-stream adaptive cycle technology demonstrator engine.

“The variable cycle engine automatically alternates between a high-thrust mode for optimum power and a high-efficiency mode for high fuel savings.”

GE Advanced Combat Engine Programme general manager Dan McCormick said: “GE is excited to continue the maturation of adaptive cycle engines; it will enable revolutionary combat capability of future platforms.

“Three-stream adaptive cycle engines bring a generational change to what propulsion can provide as compared to legacy engines or potential upgrades to legacy engines.

“It will be a game changer in combat capability with unmatched improvements in range, thrust and heat dissipation capacity, critical to future mission requirements while enabling upgrades in avionics and weapons.”

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The GE Adaptive Cycle Engine helps combine improved fuel burn with increased fighter-level thrust. This allows for next-generation military combat aircraft to travel greater distances while engaging more targets.

It was developed under the US Department of Defense’s Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology and Adaptive Engine Technology Development programmes.

Dan McCormick added: “We are proud and excited to be part of the USAF team moving this new class of advanced propulsion forward towards eventual production and fielding.”

The variable cycle engine automatically alternates between a high-thrust mode for optimum power and a high-efficiency mode for high fuel savings, offering new operational possibilities for the airforce.