F-35 expects XA engines with third stream of air and more thrust

PANAGYURISHTE, ($1=1.73 Bulgarian Levas) – The United States believes that the F-35 engines that currently power the jet fighter will soon be history. At least according to preliminary attitudes, next-generation engines should be integrated at the end of this decade. They are currently under construction and are known as the Adaptive Engine Transition Program or AETP.

F-35 expects XA engines with third stream of air and more thrust
Photo credit: Wikipedia

General Electric XA100 and Pratt & Whitney XA101 are the two engines that are part of AETP. The two engines are expected to increase the range of the fighter jet by at least 30% and its stability by at least 40% while reducing fuel combustion by at least a quarter.

The XA100 and XA101 engines should increase the acceleration of the fighters and give more traction. Military engineers say this will be achieved by introducing a third airflow modulated between the engine core and the bypass flow. It is this part of the development that best describes the definition of “adaptive” in the Adaptive Engine Transition Program.

According to data provided by the manufacturers, currently available and operating F-35 fighters have a range of about 1350 miles on a single refueling. The XA100 and XA101 engines must increase operational combat capability to at least 1,800 miles.

F-35 expects XA engines with third stream of air and more thrust
Photo credit: The Drive

Why is this important?

For the US Air Force, as well as its partners, the next major conflict could be in the Asia-Pacific theater. Removing the constraints that current engines power the F-35 Lightning II would be essential and would at some point provide an advantage to the Air Force. The military is already talking about increasing the range of fighters as a mandatory feature.

However, not only the F-35 will play a significant role in this scenario. Refueling tankers will also come to the fore, and they have always been a key factor in planning air combat.

BulgarianMilitary.com has already written about two tankers from the next area, which can provide serious support to the F-35 during hostilities. The unmanned aerial vehicle MQ-25A continues with its tests for loading fighters in the air but has already successfully passed the tests for loading two key fighters – F-18 Super Hornet and F-35C. Lockheed Martin’s LMXT is the next next-generation tanker that can load more than one fighter in flight. In addition, this air tanker is designed to serve in the air aircraft F-35A, F-22, F-16, A-10, B1-B, C-17, E-3, E-7, F-15, P- 8A.

Therefore, the new F-35 engines would give an advantage over the present in the future – increased range and longer stay in the air means that the United States can lift more aircraft during a conflict while refueling in the air to remain in its traditional indicators.

F-35 expects XA engines with third stream of air and more thrust
Photo credit: The Drive

What are the problems with the current F135 engine?

Currently, the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine is mainly installed on most F-35 fighters. For several years, analysts, test pilots, and pilots for F-35 combat missions have been finding excessive wear on the heat shield of the F-35A turbine rotor blades.

Earlier this year, it turned out that 46 of the planes were without working engines due to the problem.

There is a third problem that was mentioned years ago by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Charles K. Brown Jr. at the time. “F135 engines give up a little faster in certain areas as a result of intensive use and regular deployment. One solution to the problem may be to simply use fewer F-35s,” Brown said at the time.

What’s next for the XA100 and XA101 engines?

The engines are under development and testing. In the coming years, it will become clear whether they will achieve the set goals and indicators. According to US government officials, if these engines pass successful tests, not only will the US Air Force replace the old ones with new ones, but so will foreign F-35 users.

However, the process is complicated. Politicians have yet to do their job through a special bill. There are signals that the start can be made by including the Adaptive Engine Transition Program in the budget expenditures for 2023. However, the bill has not yet been passed.

F-35 expects XA engines with third stream of air and more thrust
Photo credit: The Drive

However, if this happens, the Secretary of the Navy, together with the Deputy Minister of Defense for Acquisition and Maintenance, will prepare a similar but separate plan to add an “advanced propulsion system” – which could be the final AETP design or an improved version of the AETP. the existing Pratt and Whitney F135 – up to the F-35B with short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) and the F-35C carrier-based variants, again in 2027 at the latest.

Both reports will have to be presented within two weeks of President Joe Biden’s proposal for the 2023 budget.

The costs associated with integrating any new power plants into the three F-35 variants could be significant.


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