US defense and aerospace company Boeing is offering a charged-up engine to power its F/A-18 Super Hornet, in the race to win the Indian Air Force (IAF) tender for 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).
The engine, called the GE F414 EPE (Enhanced Performance Engine), will provide 20 per cent additional thrust to the aircraft. According to Richard S. McCrary, who leads Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet campaign in India, no changes would be required in the aircraft since the aircraft was designed ab initio to accommodate this evolved engine.
Dr. Vivek Lall, the head of Boeing’s Defense, Space and Security unit in India says that from its inception, the Super Hornet was designed to accommodate additional inlet airflow beyond the current F414 demand in anticipation of future capability enhancements and that technology upgrades for the engine are currently under development with GE Aviation.
The EPE takes advantage of this inherent airframe growth capability through enhancements to the fan and core, resulting in a 20% increase in thrust with no changes to the aircraft structure or outer moldline.
“The EPE includes an upgraded core with an advanced High Pressure Turbine (HPT) and six-stage High Pressure Compressor (HPC) plus a new fan for greater airflow, resulting in a 20% thrust improvement. EPE enhancements also offer greater operational flexibility with reduced fuel consumption. At the maintenance level, the EPE engine provides a more Foreign Object Damage-tolerant compressor to further lower Operating and Support cost,” says McCrary, a former SR-71 Blackbird pilot in an emailed response, refuting any idea that the Super Hornet might be under-powered.
He also says, “The EPE is planned to meet initial delivery timeline should the F/A-18E/F be selected as the MMRCA.”
GE Aviation’s says on its website that the latest F414 advanced-technology demonstrator engine forms the baseline for this engine and has completed a test program that utilized a two-stage, all-blisk (integrated blade and disk) fan, an advanced six-stage high-pressure compressor (HPC) and a new high-pressure turbine (HPT) design. “The engine ran to 100 percent of maximum steady-state core speed and successfully completed all program objectives during more than 20 hours of testing.”
Incidentally, Boeing plans to fly in at least two Super Hornets and a C-17 heavy lift aircraft to Aero India, the air show in Bangalore, next month.