The U.S. Air Force Next Generation Adaptive Propulsion (NGAP) program for the service’s Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) fighter received $220 million–a nearly $153 million increase over the budget request–in the fiscal 2023 omnibus appropriations law.
Five companies–General Electric [GE], Raytheon Technologies‘ Pratt & Whitney [RTX], Boeing [BA], Lockheed Martin [LMT], and Northrop Grumman [NOC]–received contracts under an umbrella, $975 million effort for the prototype phase of NGAP (Defense Daily, Aug. 19, 2022).
In addition to NGAP, the omnibus funded the Air Force’s Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP) at the budget requested amount of $286 miillion. As part of AETP, GE is proposing its XA100 Tri-Variant Adaptive (TVA) engine to accomodate the envisioned Block 4 weapons and other upgrades for the Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35 fighter.
Pratt & Whitney, the builder of the F-35’s current F135 engine, is pitching its Engine Core Upgrade (ECU) for future F-35 blocks.
The fiscal 2023 omnibus adds $75 million for ECU.
“Pratt & Whitney has reduced the cost of the F135 engine by 50 percent since production began, and the engine has performed at twice its original specifications for years,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who will likely become the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee in the new Congress, said in a Dec. 23 Pratt & Whitney statement. “An upgrade is overdue.”
“We’re going to give the F-35 the capabilities it needs for billions less than a new engine,” she said in the statement. “That’s a win for the warfighter and the taxpayer.”
DoD’s upcoming fiscal 2024 budget may lay out the future engine path for the F-35–whether that be the Pratt & Whitney proposed F135 ECU or a new power plant, such as the GE TVA engine (Defense Daily, Oct. 11, 2022).
Pratt & Whitney has said that it will be able to outfit 24 F-35 squadrons with ECU by 2030–seven squadrons in 2029 and 17 in 2030.
Last October, 48 representatives urged DoD to invest in next generation, adaptive propulsion for fighters in a letter co-sponsored by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio).
In all, 13 of 16 Ohio representatives signed the letter.
General Electric’s GE Aviation subsidiary has its headquarters in Evendale, Ohio outside of Cincinnati.
GE has said that it began working with the F-35 JPO in the fall of 2021 on evaluating whether GE could alter the proposed XA100 for the U.S. Air Force’s AETP to fit on the U.S. Marine Corps F-35B.
Since 2016, the Air Force has funded the AETP.
The F-35 program has said that while the XA100 TVA is based on the F-35A’s F135 engine the TVA would require an independent development program.