The US Air Force is considering a proposal from General Electric to equip the final five Boeing F-15Es on order with F110-129 turbofans as part of push by the manufacturer to market the powerplant in South Korea as an alternative engine for the F-15K, offered for the F-X deal.

GE is believed to have submitted a financially attractive proposition to the USAF to equip the aircraft with the F110 engine on a no-obligation trial basis as an alternative to the incumbent Pratt & Whitney F100-229 engine. The air force could have the option to later re-engine the aircraft with the F100 powering the 232 F-15Es already delivered.

The offer covers the final five fighters set for delivery to the USAF in 2003-4 under a US Congress budget add-on approved this year. Boeing recently re-opened the F-15 line and is now in the process of building five more F100-powered aircraft funded last year following Congressional action.

USAF acceptance of the F110 is seen as critical for GE's ability to offer a viable alternative 29,000lb-thrust (129kN) powerplant to South Korea and represents the last real chance to launch an F-15 application for the engine. South Korea is due to select its F-X next generation fighter by November and plans to order an initial 40 aircraft.

The F110 was first flight demonstrated on two USAF F-15Es in 1989 and completed the final phase of qualification and field evaluation on the airframe in 1998. The F110/ F-15E combination had clocked up 1,600h of flight time, but the air force decided against the engine as there were insufficient F-15s on order to justify the move.

Aside from the USAF and possibly South Korea, Japan has also shown interest in the engine as retrofit for its Mitsubishi-built F-15Js. The F110-129 is already built under licence in Japan by Ishikawajima Harima Heavy Industries for the Mitsubishi F-2A/B development of the Lockheed Martin F-16.

Source: Flight International