General Electric XA100 engine will now power the F-35B

“I am happy to report that we were able to show a technical solution there that did meet the technical goals that were put out, and it was a very collaborative and productive effort, with both Lockheed Martin and the Joint Program Office,” Tweedie said. “Now, the B-model user community will have options for multiple engine companies moving forward as they think about their modernization needs, which is something they have never had.”

Currently, all three versions (A, B, and C) of the F-35 are powered by GE’s competitor: the Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan. The F136 from GE and Rolls-Royce was also under development, but it was canceled in 2011 after years of work and billions of dollars spent.

Three notable innovations

GE’s XA100 aims to provide a leap in performance for both fifth- and sixth-generation fighters and is being touted as the next big thing in fighter aircraft propulsion. It has three notable innovations that make it cutting edge:

It uses an adaptive cycle engine that allows a single powerplant to harness the advantages of commercial mixed-flow turbofans. “An engine that can be reconfigured in flight, adjust its bypass ratio to operate more like a commercial engine in a fuel-efficient mode, in subsonic cruise and loiter conditions, but then still have the ability to flex into a more traditional high-thrust mode for combat acceleration, high-Mach performance,” explained Tweedie.

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