Lockheed Martin and Airbus have partnered with GE Aerospace to supply engines for a strategic tanker proposal supporting the US Air Force’s KC-135 recapitalization plan.
Under the collaboration, GE will provide the team with its CF6-80E1 propulsion system for the LMXT aircraft being developed by Lockheed.
The LMXT is based on the Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft (MRTT) and will eventually replace the air force’s existing KC-135 Stratotanker fleet.
GE Aerospace CF6-80E1 Engine
The CF6-80E1 was selected due to its “proven durability, reliability, and performance.”
Designed exclusively for the A330, the engine generates 70,000 pounds of thrust with a 15 percent increase in fuel efficiency.
GE’s CF6 family powers nearly 70 percent of global wide-body aircraft. The product line first entered service in 1971, with over 8,500 systems delivered to date.
The CF6 is offered in 10 commercial and 25 military variants.
“America’s tanker fleet will play a critical role in meeting future mission requirements. This means the LMXT must use capable and proven technologies, such as the MRTT strategic tanker and GE Aerospace’s CF6 engine,” Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Executive Vice President Greg Ulmer stated.
“This partnership with GE further demonstrates how the LMXT will strengthen and diversify the critical US tanker industrial base.”
US Strategic Tanker Recapitalization Program
KC-135 was first constructed in the 1950s and entered service the following decade. Due to age, the US presented plans for the aircraft’s recapitalization in 2022.
The KC-Y Bridge Tanker program was launched to address the requirement. It ordered a commercially-derived tanker to fill gaps in operational refuellers, including the KC-135 and the more-advanced KC-46A Pegasus aircraft.