CFM International (CFMI) plans to submit proposals to the US Air Force by the end of this month for the re-engining of its 15 Boeing E-8 joint surveillance and target attack radar system (JSTARS) ground surveillance radar aircraft.


The bid will include the first proposed use of the CFM56-3 on a Boeing 707/KC-135 airframe, although it will also cover the option of the standard CFM56-2 powerplant used to power USAF KC-135Rs.

Karl Matson, general manager of CFMI's military transport engine programmes, says the -3, which until now has been used solely on the 737 "Classic" is a "very good fit for the JSTARS".

Although the USAF has yet to generate an official requirement for the re-engining effort, CFMI says the increased operational benefits have raised interest in the initiative. The E-8 JSTARS aircraft are powered by Pratt & Whitney JT3D turbofans.

Mission length, which is frequently lengthy, is affected by oil consumption, say some reports. CFMI, which was invited by the USAF to a recent JSTARS industry day to discuss upgrade options, says the aircraft "can do the mission with the JT3Ds, but can do it even better with new engines".

The larger engines would not interfere with the aircraft's belly-mounted surveillance radar, Matson adds.

The first re-engined RC-135 is due to be completed in May, with a further nine scheduled for re-engining during the year. All 23 RC-135s in the inventory are expected to be fitted with CFM56-2s by 2004, pending funding.

CFMI also continues to pursue the prospects for re-engining of the USAF's 33 Boeing E-3 airborne warning and control system aircraft and 112 remaining JT3D-powered KC-135E tankers. The balance of the fleet consists of 428 CFM56-powered KC-135Rs.

Source: Flight International