Rolls-Royce to Maintain F137 Engines of U.S. Air Force Global Hawk and Navy Triton Unmanned Aircraft Fleets

Rolls-Royce has been awarded a sustainment contract to maintain, repair and overhaul F137 turbofan engines for the U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk and U.S. Navy MQ-4C Triton unmanned surveillance aircraft fleets, valued at up to $420 million over six years.

The contract also includes program management and sustainment engineering services for the F137 engine fleet. F137 is the USAF designation for the Rolls-Royce AE 3007H high-bypass turbofan engine, which powers the Global Hawk and Triton, as well as a number of commercial and business aviation aircraft. The engines are engineered and manufactured at Rolls-Royce facilities in Indianapolis, US.

The MRO services will be performed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, US, where Rolls-Royce and the Air Force recently established a public-private partnership to develop and manage an engine depot. It is the first Rolls-Royce engine facility to operate at Tinker AFB, which is the home of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. Additional F137 work will be carried out at a Rolls-Royce engine facility in Montreal, Canada.

Paul Craig, Rolls-Royce, President — Defence Services, said, “Rolls-Royce has a long and successful history of supporting US Air Force and Navy engines, and our innovative public-private partnership at Tinker Air Force Base has enabled us to work together in a new way and will be a key component of maximising engine availability. This new contract includes engine services for the Navy’s Triton fleet, and we look forward to continuing this public-private partnership for years to come, focusing on customer support and enhancing mission success.”

The new contract is considered an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity agreement, with initial obligated funding of $8 million.

The AE 3007H turbofan engine is part of the reliable, proven Rolls-Royce AE family, with nearly 7,000 engines delivered to military and commercial customers worldwide, and a combined 73 million engine flight hours. The AE engine family also includes the AE 2100 turboprop, which powers the Lockheed Martin C-130J and LM-100J, as well as the C-27J and Saab 2000; and the AE 1107C turboshaft, which powers the V-22 Osprey operated by the US Marine Corps and Air Force.

Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk

Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk is an unmanned surveillance aircraft designed by Ryan Aeronautical (now part of Northrop Grumman), and known as Tier II+ during development.

The Global Hawk performs a similar role as the Lockheed U-2. The RQ-4 provides a broad overview and systematic surveillance using high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and long-range electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors with long loiter times over target areas. It can survey as much as 40,000 square miles (100,000 km2) of terrain a day, which is an area the size of South Korea or Iceland.

The Global Hawk is operated by the U.S. Air Force which use it as a high-altitude platform covering the spectrum of intelligence collection capability to support forces in worldwide military operations. According to the Air Force, the superior surveillance capabilities of the aircraft allow more precise weapons targeting and better protection of friendly forces.

Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton

Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed for the U.S. Navy as a unmanned maritime surveillance aircraft. It is based on the RQ-4 Global Hawk operated by the U.S. Air Force.

Developed under the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) program, the system is intended to provide real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions (ISR) over vast ocean and coastal regions, continuous maritime surveillance, conduct search and rescue missions, and to complement the Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.

Triton builds on elements of the RQ-4 Global Hawk; changes include reinforcements to the air frame and wing, de-icing systems, and lightning protection systems. These capabilities allow the aircraft to descend through cloud layers to gain a closer view of ships and other targets at sea when needed. The current sensor suites allow ships to be tracked over time by gathering information on their speed, location, and classification.

The MQ-4C System Development and Demonstration (SDD) aircraft was delivered in 2012 and the MQ-4C was originally expected to be operational by late 2015 with a total of 68 aircraft to be procured. Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the MQ-4C was achieved in 2018 with Full Operating Capability (FOC) planned in 2023.

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