Like, They're Not Fast Enough Already
Lockheed Martin has successfully
completed the initial phase of flight testing of a more powerful
engine for the latest version of the F-16, the Block 60.
The engine is a General Electric F110-GE-132 turbofan engine
that produces approximately 32,500 pounds of thrust in maximum
afterburner. It is a derivative of the current F110-GE-129, which
is in the 29,000-pound thrust class.
Flight testing was accomplished on a modified USAF F-16C at the
Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base (CA). Thirteen
flights were conducted from April 25 through June 19. The original
plan called for 25 flights over a three-month period, but aerial
refueling and excellent engine performance and reliability allowed
the number of flights to be cut in nearly half.
"The engine met or exceeded all of
our expectations during extensive ground and flight testing," said
Dan Levin, Lockheed Martin project test pilot. "The engine
performed flawlessly, even at extremes of the F-16 flight envelope,
and you really notice the added thrust. The handling qualities in
formation and aerial refueling were excellent. We look forward to
testing the engine in the first Block 60 aircraft at Fort Worth
later this year."
The new engine version is being developed by General Electric
Aircraft Engines, Evendale (OH), in support of a commercial
contract to Lockheed Martin, for the new Block 60 F-16.
"This is an important milestone in the Block 60 program leading
to production of the first aircraft later this year," said John L.
Bean, vice president of F-16 programs. "This higher-thrust engine
ensures the Block 60, which has the capability to operate at higher
gross weights, will retain the F-16's famous performance that
entails acceleration, climb rate and sustained turn rate. New
technologies are allowing this to be accomplished while maintaining
or improving engine operability, durability, reliability or
The new engine version features "blisks" (bladed-disks) in the
three-stage modular fan section in lieu of traditional blades to
improve performance and maintainability. The engine also
incorporates an enhanced durability radial augmentor (afterburner)
and exhaust nozzle, plus control software modifications to optimize
engine performance at all flight conditions. The Block 60 aircraft
and engine also will feature an auto-throttle capability.
Flight testing verified compatibility across the entire F-16
envelope, including high angle-of-attack and sideslip maneuvers,
pushovers, inverted flight, and takeoff and landings. Test points
included air starts, throttle transients, afterburner operation,
primary and secondary fuel control operation, and formation