Cycle Engine Image
The GE XA100 flight-weight, three-stream adaptive cycle engine. (Credit: GE)

GE has concluded phase 1 testing on its second XA100 adaptive cycle engine as part of the U.S. Air Force’s Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP). Phase 1 testing took place at GE’s Evendale, Ohio, altitude test facility and enabled GE to continue gathering high-quality performance data validating the engine’s transformational propulsion capability. Phase 2 tests will begin at the U.S. Air Force’s advanced testing facilities at Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) in the first quarter of 2022.

“Phase 1 testing allowed us to further characterize the operation of the engine and puts us in a great position to begin Phase 2 testing at AEDC,” said David Tweedie, GE Edison Works’ general manager for Advanced Combat Engines. “We continue to burn down risk with full-scale engine testing, which is why the XA100 is the lowest risk, most capable, and fastest approach to keep the F-35 a preeminent fighter platform for the long term.”

GE’s XA100 became the world’s first ever flight-weight, three-stream adaptive cycle engine in December 2020 before initiating tests on its second engine in August 2021. GE’s engine is uniquely designed to fit both the F-35A and F-35C without any structural modifications to either airframe, enabling better aircraft range, acceleration, and cooling power to accommodate next-generation mission systems.

The XA100-GE-100 engine combines three key innovations to deliver a generational change in combat propulsion performance: 1) An adaptive engine cycle that provides both a high-thrust mode for maximum power and a high-efficiency mode for optimum fuel savings and loiter time. 2) A third-stream architecture that provides a step-change in thermal management capability, enabling future mission systems for increased combat effectiveness. And 3) extensive use of advanced component technologies, including ceramic matrix composites (CMC), polymer matrix composites (PMC), and additive manufacturing.

These revolutionary innovations increase thrust 10%, improve fuel efficiency by 25%, and provide significantly more aircraft heat dissipation capacity, all within the same physical envelope as current propulsion systems. The XA100’s improved fuel efficiency provides significant reduction in carbon emissions. The engine will also operate on any U.S. Air Force-approved biofuels.

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