Air Force and industry engineers are testing an enhanced version of the Rolls Royce AE3007 turbofan engine that powers RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles at the Arnold Engineering Development Center on the grounds of Arnold AFB, Tenn. These activities are taking place in the center’s T-4 test cell. Gary Meuer, the contractor managing the testing, said this is the first altitude test of this engine variant, which features upgraded turbine hardware and an improved combustor. “They [the customer and sponsor] are after fuel economy, not more performance, but more efficiency and endurance,” said Meuer. Andrew Jackson, the lead contractor engineer for the testing, said T-4 simulates the altitude and Mach number of the Global Hawk in flight. RQ-4s have an operational ceiling around 65,000 ft. (AEDC release)
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.