US company is in race to power proposed Japanese military transport, but faces competition from Rolls-Royce Trent 500

General Electric is capitalising on development of the CF6-80C2L1F for the Lockheed Martin C-5M Reliability and Re-engining Programme (RERP) to propose a version of the engine for Japan's proposed C-X military transport.

The US company, however, faces competition from the Rolls-Royce Trent 500. The Japan Defence Agency (JDA) could make an engine selection as soon as next month.

"We want to leverage as much as we can from the L1F for C-X. We're working very closely with the Technical Research Development Institute and are hoping to have a downselect completed this August," says Joe Guenther, GE C-5 RERP programme manager. Around $55 million has been spent developing the engine for the C-5M, the critical design review which is scheduled for next month followed by the first engine test in November.

Japan has asked for a civil certified based engine in the 50,000lb (220kN) thrust range for the planned twin-engined C-X. The CF6-80C2L1F utilises the same turbo-machinery as the Airbus A300-600's -80C2A5Fand will be certified to US civil regulations.

Changes include the use of three-dimensional compressor blades, a second hydraulic pump, a modified gearbox, a unique FADEC 3 digital engine control while the nacelle inlet, plug and nozzle are from the Boeing MD-11.

The C-5M's two inboard engines, like the C-5A/B's GETF39, will have in-flight deployable thrust reversers for rapid altitude descent, a feature that will not be on the C-X engine.

A key JDA requirement is for a 6,500lb-thrust (29kN) reverser for landing, as a result of which GE has designed and demonstrated the L1F's reverser to 7,000lb-thrust although the US Air Force is only seeking 5,500lb-thrust.

R-R is hoping its industrial relationship with Kawasaki Heavy Industry (KHI), which will be leading the Japanese development effort, will give it the edge over GE. KHI has a sizeable stake in the Trent programme and R-R has sent a Trent 500 to Japan for testing on a KHI testbed.

GE in turn is looking to Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries to push the L1F, building on its participation in the GE90 and CF34 civil programmes. Pratt & Whitney is also pitching for C-X with a PW4000-based offering.

Source: Flight International