Rolls-Royce has won a $49 million contract to establish an engine maintenance facility at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.
The new facility will perform depot-level maintenance on Rolls-Royce’s AE 3007H, which powers the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned air vehicles (UAV) flown by the US Air Force (USAF) for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
The new facility is a public-private partnership, and will be staffed by both Rolls-Royce and US Air Force personnel. Though the US Navy has discussed joint maintenance operations with the USAF for maintenance of the MQ-4C Triton, the Navy’s maritime patrol variant of Global Hawk, there are currently no plans for Navy personnel to join the new facility.
The new facility marks Rolls-Royce’s first such public-private maintenance facility, says the company. Though Rolls-Royce performed depot-level maintenance for the USAF, such operations were conducted at the company’s Montreal, Canada production facility.
The AE3007H is a derivative of a model used on small airliners and corporate jets. Several hundred of the engines have been manufactured. The engine produces 8,600lb (38kN) of thrust, and allow the RQ-4 to remain airborne for over 30h.
The USAF currently operates around 30 Global Hawks, with more on the way. The Navy intends to buy nearly 70 MQ-4s.