Engine manufacturers Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney [UTX] entered bids on the preliminary design of a proposed Air Force development program to improve the performance of aircraft engines.

General Electric [GE] said it will also bid on the proposed program, called Adaptive Engine Technology Development (AETD), which is designed to improve engines’ fuel efficiency, durability and thrust performance. The program will also increase un-refueled range for several platforms engaging in Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) environments, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology and Engineering Steven Walker told the House Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee Feb. 29. Walker said the service has proposed fiscal year 2013 funds for a preliminary design of AETD.

Those platforms engaging in A2/AD environments are thought to be fighter jet platforms.

Walker also told the subcommittee the program’s goal is to enable ground and flight test qualification of a production-ready engine early in the 2020s for integration into legacy and future aircraft systems.

“This investment will also help maintain a competitive industrial base in turbine engine technology, an area critical to our future military capability,” Walker said.

Rolls-Royce Senior Vice President for U.S. Government Programs Tom Hartmann confirmed Wednesday the company bid on the program. Pratt & Whitney spokesman Matthew Bates said Thursday in an email the company also bid, but couldn’t comment on specifics or details of the company’s proposal. GE spokesman Rick Kennedy said Thursday the company bidding is not a matter of “if, but when.”

“There is a lot of synergy with the technologies we’re working on (with) ADVENT,” Hartmann said, referring to the program’s predecessor, the Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology (ADVENT) program. “We’re certainly bringing our experience and the technology we’ve been developing (with) ADVENT to bear on that activity.”

Rolls-Royce and GE are both working on the ADVENT program but are not teamed as both companies have separate technologies and contracts, according to a Rolls-Royce spokesman.

AEDT is considered a successor to the ADVENT program, which Walker said in his testimony is developing multi-design-point engine technologies that will provide optimized fuel efficiency of up to 25 percent and performance capabilities over a wide range of flight regimes.