BRENDAN SOBIE / SINGAPORE
Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (IHI) may manufacture General Electric's CF6 engine in Japan as part of the C-X transport project.
IHI is backing GE's CF6 proposal in a Japan Defence Agency (JDA) competition to select a C-X powerplant. Competition is provided by the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 and Rolls-Royce Trent 500, with a selection expected later this year.
"IHI hopes the CF6 will be selected as the C-X engine," says IHI business planning group manager Hiroshi Suzuki. "It may be possible to produce CF6 engines domestically, since IHI and other Japanese companies have sufficient experience on production of large commercial engines like the CF6."
The JDA earlier this year selected the CF6 over the PW4000 to power its new fleet of 767 tankers. The CF6 also powers about 150 Japanese-registered commercial aircraft, making a possible manufacturing venture in Japan attractive.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries is developing the twin-engined C-X and four-engined P-X maritime patrol aircraft, with some systems and components to be shared by both platforms. IHI is proposing development of the new XF7 engine, for the P-X. Only foreign powerplants are being considered for the C-X, but the JDA is encouraging some local production and maintenance work.
Suzuki says the XF7 would have a new digital engine control that IHI has developed as part of the Japan Air Self Defence Force's J3 engine upgrade programme. FADEC will help the air force reduce the life- cycle cost and improve the reliability of the J3, which powers the Kawasaki T-4 trainer.