The U.S. Air Force (USAF) has issued two pre-solicitation notices for the procurement of new Boeing F-15EX fighter aircraft and its GE Aviation F-110 turbofan engines.
According to the first notice, the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) is intending to award a sole source indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contract to Boeing to procure new F-15EX jets as “a refresh to the F-15C/D fleet and augment the F-15E fleet”.
The intent is to procure upgraded F-15EX aircraft, as well as any future modernization and sustainment efforts. Contract requirements include aircraft, modernization efforts such as hardware and software design, development integration, test, subsystem and structural component production, installation of future modernization kits, and enhancements to the F-15E weapon system as well as product support.
According to the second notice for the engines, the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) is intending to award a sole source ID/IQ contract to General Electric Aviation to provide F110 turbofan engines to meet the F-15EX weapons system requirement.
The proposed contract action is projected for the purchase of up to 480 F110 engines, engine monitoring system computers, integrated logistics support, support equipment, and tooling. The contract award and orders are anticipated starting from May 2020.
The F-15EX aircraft requires delivery of a propulsion system certified for installation including integration with the fly-by-wire (FBW) flight control system. According to GE, the F110-GE-129 engine is currently fully qualified for the F-15EX.
F-15EX is the most advanced variant of Boeing F-15 Eagle/F-15E Strike Eagle fighter aircraft to date. Its is a derivative of the F-15SA aircraft currently operational with the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF).
Improvements over the previous versions include the AMBER (Advanced Missile and Bomb Ejection Rack) weapons rack to carry up to 22 air-to-air missiles (AAMs), infra-red search and track (IRST), advanced avionics and electronics warfare (EW) equipment, AESA radar, and revised structure with a service life of 20,000 hours.
In December 2018, it was reported that the Pentagon was planning to request $1.2 billion for 12 F-15Xs in its FY 2020 budget. In the Budget released in March 2019, the Department of Defense requested US$1.1 billion to procure eight F-15EX fighters of a total planned procurement of 144 F-15EXs.
GE Aviation F110
General Electric F110 is a family of afterburning turbofan jet engines produced by General Electric Aviation (GE Aviation). The F110 engine powers almost 70 percent of U.S. Air Force F-16C/D Fighting Falcon combat aircraft, as well as 86 percent of Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jets delivered globally in the last 15 years.
The engine uses the same engine core design as the General Electric F101 engine that powers the B-1 Lancer strategic bomber. The F118 engine, that powers B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, is a non-afterburning variant of F110.
The U.S. Air Force originally procured the F110 engine in 1984 to power a majority of its F-16 fleet. The first GE-powered F-16s went into service in 1987. The F110 also powered the venerable F-14B/D Tomcat. In addition, many other nations around the globe have selected the F110 engine to power their F-16 fleets, as well as variants of the twin-engine F-15 fighter jet.
The F110 powers F-16 fleets in Bahrain, Chile, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Oman, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates and was selected by Bulgaria, Slovakia and Taiwan. The engine also powers F-15 fleets in Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Singapore and will power Qatar’s F-15s starting in 2021. The F110 also powers Japan’s F-2 indigenous fighter. To date, 3,400 F110 engines have been ordered worldwide.
In September 2019, the F110 engine family surpassed 10 million flight hours.
The newest F110 variants have gone through GE’s Service Life Extension Program (SLEP). SLEP hardware upgrades include highly successful three-dimensional aerodynamic technology derived from the CFM56 commercial engine family plus upgrades to the combustor and high-pressure turbine. The enhancements can help provide up to a 25 percent improvement in cost-per-flying hour, a 50 percent increase in engine cycle life, and a threefold increase in average time-on-wing.