Adaptive Cycle Engine for Fighter Aircraft Might Forever Change Aerial Combat

For years now the U.S. military has been looking for the next-generation fighter aircraft, the one that will keep America at the top of the list for aerial supremacy. Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) is how the program meant to come up with the next fighter is called, and we already got a preview of how the thing could look in the United States Air Force’s acquisition report released back in April.
General Electric XA100 Adaptive Cycle Engine 1 photo
Photo: General Electric
The NGAD is still some years away, but development is advancing rapidly on several fronts. When it comes to the engine that will power the thing, America could go for something called XA100 and presently being developed by General Electric (GE).

Described as an adaptive cycle engine, the XA100 should come with 10 percent more thrust (a total of around 45,000 lbf), 25 percent more fuel efficiency, and significantly higher heat dissipation, while maintaining pretty much the same size as present-day designs (we are not told with what type of engine performance levels were actually compared).

The engine is called adaptive cycle because it can be used either in high-thrust mode when in combat and in a hurry, or in a high-efficiency mode when loitering.

GE just wrapped up testing of the engine last week at its facility in Evendale, Ohio, earlier this month, and says the “performance and mechanical behavior were consistent with pre-test predictions and fully aligned with the U.S. Air Force’s Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP) objectives.”

There is no exact date known for when the engine will be fully ready, but the USAF does plan to start fielding its sixth-generation fighter aircraft developed under the NGAD project sometime by the end of the decade.

The XA100 might also make its way in future versions of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning, and a second prototype of the technology is already being built by GE, with the goal of having it start testing be the end of the year.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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