New military engines, as well as old, will be under discussion at the Farnborough air show this year.

Guy Norris/LOS ANGELES Andrew Doyle/LONDON

IF THEY CAN MAKE themselves heard above the roar of the performing combat aircraft, visitors to this year's Farnborough air show will be talking about major developments in the military aero-engine business.

Foremost for US-UK relations is the expected formal signing of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) engine collaboration between Allison Advanced Development (4/B1), General Electric (4/E1) and Rolls-Royce (4/B1). The signing would ratify an agreement from March, under which R-R, Allison's new parent, teamed with the existing GE/Allison JSF partnership to develop and produce the YF120 cruise engine as an alternative for the JSF. The agreement also includes joint work on the GEA-FXL lift engine for the lift-plus-lift/cruise version being developed by British Aerospace (E1), McDonnell Douglas (MDC) (3/A22) and Northrop Grumman (4/J1).


The agreement is crucial for R-R, not only because it keeps its options open for the eventual UK (and possibly other) JSF purchases, but it also allows R-R to offer the powerful YF120 for other competitions. The most obvious of these includes the Royal Air Force's future offensive aircraft, which calls for a single 156kN-plus (35,000lb)-thrust engine, beyond the EJ200 developed for the Eurofighter EF2000.

R-R will design and manufacture the fan module for the revised GE engine. The turbofan, complete with axisymmetric thrust-vectoring nozzle, will be on display at the show. The engine will be under 24h guard against the unwelcome intrusions of curious "engineers", and their bore-scopes. Allison will provide engine-core and low-pressure technology for the YF120, borrowing from its Lamilloy high-temperature-resistant alloy know-how.

Pratt & Whitney (4/G1) have a strong initial lead in the JSF programme, with derivatives of its F119 on all three competitors. The MDC-led team is offering the least altered (SE615) version of the engine in its bid, while the SE614 used by Boeing has a 20% bigger fan to boost flow for its direct-lift offering. The Lockheed Martin JSF uses the SE611 version, which is modified to run a shaft-driven lift fan. A decision to shortlist two finalists is expected in early November.

P&W will be briefing visitors on the current production F119, the first pair of which will be shipped to Lockheed Martin for installation in the first F-22 flight-test aircraft in September. First flight of the F-22, which is built in partnership with Boeing, is planned for May 1997. P&W is under contract to build 27 engines to power nine flight-test aircraft. Production-standard engines will be delivered in 1999, with 1,023 engines due for delivery.

The duel continues between the big two US engine makers over the Lockheed Martin F-16 and, to a lesser extent, the MDC F-15. GE scored a victory earlier this year when its F110 engines were selected to power 21 new F-16s for the Egyptian air force as part of the Peace Vector V modernisation programme. More F-16C/D competitions are brewing in Central Europe, the Middle East and Pacific Rim and neither company is resting on its laurels.


P&W, for example, has just unveiled a new durable-fan module for the F100-229, which it hopes will spur the US Air Force into a large-scale retrofit programme for the F-15E and Block 52 F-16 fleet in 2003/4. The move depends on funding for a $40 million flight-qualification programme from the USAF, on which a decision is expected by the end of the year. The new fan boosts airflow by 10% and could save more than $400 million in operating costs, say P&W.

In a similar move, although seemingly with less chance of such wide-scale implementation, GE also completed flight-test qualification earlier this year of the 129kN F110-129 on a USAF F-15, allowing the engine to be available as a retrofit option. The F110-129 is also due to go into production in Japan within the next three years, for installation on the Mitsubishi F-2.

GE's big revenue-earner, the F404, continues to sell on the MDC F-18. New sales were notched up in Thailand this year and new competitions are under way. Some of these pit the hybrid F404/RM12-powered Saab JAS39 Gripen against the F-18. The F404 is also a candidate for the development phase of South Korea's indigenous advanced trainer, the KTX-II.

The 98kN F414, big brother of the F404, has amassed more than 650h in the US Navy's F-18E/F virtually trouble-free flight-test programme. The engine segment of the effort is now 90% complete, with deliveries of initial production units due in 1998. The USN plans call for production of 2,300 F404s for the aircraft, which is expected to enter service in 2001.

The highlight for Europe's military-power plant builders, meanwhile, will be the long-awaited public debut at Farnborough of the Eurojet EJ200-powered Eurofighter EF2000. The first two prototypes were fitted with Turbo-Union RB199s for initial test flights.

Aircraft DA3, the first prototype to be fitted with EJ200s, had completed more than 50 flights by mid-year. A total of five EJ200-powered prototypes will eventually be involved in the test-programme.

Another big talking point at the show will be the imminent selection by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) of its new advanced trainer. The two front-runners are thought to be the MDC T-45A, re-engined with AlliedSignal's F124 turbofan, and the tried-and-tested BAe Hawk/R-R Adour 871 combination. AlliedSignal has been trying for some time to oust the Adour from the USN T-45 and sees the RAAF competition as pivotal in this and other future advanced trainer/lead-in-fighter battles. To the surprise of most observers, the AlliedSignal engine became the favoured option for MDC's bid with the T-45 earlier this year.

The engine was due to have its first run in the aircraft, at the end of August, and was expected to be flown later in September. Happily for the MDC/AlliedSignal team, the RAAF final-selection decision has been delayed until October or early November, allowing the F124- powered T-45A to show its paces. R-R is, meanwhile, aggressively pushing an improved Adour 871 package, which will be fitted to the USN fleet, regardless of the Australian outcome. The first F124, a non-after-burning version of the F125 developed for the Taiwanese Ching Kuo IDF fighter, was also expected to be delivered to the Czech Republic before the end of the year for installation in the Aero L159.


In the non-jet arena, one of the main talking points is likely to be the growing possibility of a full production contract for the Allison-AlliedSignal LHTEC (light-helicopter turbine engine) T800 on the Westland Lynx. The US Border Patrol, which has been testing Bell UH-1s re-engined with the T800 for surveillance and drug interdiction work, has also recently requested an extension to the trial. More details are also expected of plans to develop a turboprop version of the T800 for use as a power plant on the US Army's de Havilland (Dash 7) airborne-reconnaissance aircraft.

Another turboprop to feature at Farnborough will be Allison's AE2100D3 which is being flight-tested on the first group of Lockheed Martin C-130J for the RAF, RAAF and USAF. The 4,475kW (6,000hp)-rated turboprop, fitted with a distinctive Dowty R391 six-bladed propeller and controlled by a Lucas Aerospace digital engine-control unit, is expected to see the C-130 into a sales resurgence which will last well into the 21st century.

With the potential debut of Sukhoi's (3/F6) thrust-vector-controlled Su-27M, there will also be considerable interest in the aircraft's power plant, a derivative of the Lyulka/Saturn Al-31F. The engine, the Al-37FU, is fitted with a pitch-only nozzle, capable of deflecting +/- 20¡. Lyulka showed a mock-up of the engine at the Moscow aero-engine show in June, although it is not known whether this will be on display at Farnborough.

In terms of Russian thrust-vectoring projects, VPK MAPO will no doubt also be quizzed on the progress of the thrust-vectoring-modified RD-33s being developed for Klimov for the so-called MiG-35. The MiG-35 is a further development of the MiG-29M, fitted with thrust-vectoring. Klimov is proposing two power plants - the RD-133 development of the RD-33, and the RD-333, which it claims is a fifth-generation engine design.

Source: Flight International