Thrusting Forward

Lockheed Martin has won a contract potentially worth $30 million to continue Air Force Research Lab-sponsored work on radically improving the performance of turbine engines, the Department of Defense announced Monday. The company has been chosen to proceed into phase II and phase III of AFRL’s versatile affordable advanced turbine engines program, which hopes to achieve results by around 2017 that yield a 10-fold performance increase compared to a state-of-the-art turbine powerplant in 2000. VAATE-derived engines are envisioned to power future strike aircraft and missiles as well as sensor platforms and reusable space-access vehicles. Over the program’s three phases, researchers hope to see a four-fold performance increase in 2009, a six-fold increase in 2013, and the 10-fold improvements in 2017. Since the early part of this decade, AFRL has been sponsoring VAATE phase I work by multiple companies including Allison, Boeing, Florida Turbine Technologies, General Electric, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney, Teledyne, Timken, and Williams International. (For more on VAATE, read “Tomorrow’s Combat Advantages” from the August 2006 Air Force Magazine)