Rolls-Royce modifications to legacy C-130H T56 turboprop engines yielded even better fuel economy and reliability than predicted in recent trials at Edwards AFB, Calif., announced the company on Dec. 10. “The Air Force flight test team “confirmed that by inserting new technology, we can bring dramatic improvements in fuel consumption and engine reliability to C-130 operators,” said Tom Hartmann, Rolls-Royce’s senior vice president, in the company’s release. Flying a C-130H fitted with both standard and modified T56 engines, testers at Edwards found that Roll-Royce’s Series 3.5 upgrades reduced fuel burn by nearly 10 percent and increased reliability by 22 percent, according to the release. The Series 3.5 modifications include fitting new turbine blades and compressor vanes, which the company says maintainers could perform during regular depot maintenance. The company notes that the Air Force estimates these modifications could save as much as $2 billion across the legacy C-130 fleet out to 2040.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.