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Lockheed Martin flight tests more powerful engine for Block 60 F-16s

June 27, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Lockheed Martin has successfully completed the initial phase of flight testing of a more powerful engine for the latest version of the F-16, the block 60. The engine is a General Electric F110-GE-132 turbofan engine which is derived form the current F110-GE-100 and F110-GE-129 engines powering the majority of F-16C/Ds world-wide.

USAF F-16C block 30 #86359 is used to test the new F110-GE-132 engine for the block 60 version of the viper. [LMTAS photo ]

The new engine version is being developed by General Electric Aircraft Engines, Evendale, Ohio, in support of a commercial contract to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., for the new block 60 F-16.

Flight testing was accomplished on a modified USAF F-16C at the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, CA.

Capable of producing a maximum of 32,500 pounds (144 kN) of thrust, the F110-GE-132 is said to have 50% more life than the GE-129 varian. Engine life can be further improved by limiting thrust levels to 29,000 (129 kN) - the thrust rating of GE-129 engines. The engine met or exceeded all of the expectations during extensive ground and flight testing. It performed flawlessly, even at extremes of the F-16 flight envelope, and the added thrust is really noticeable. The handling qualities in formation and aerial refueling were excellent.

Thirteen flights were conducted from April 25 through June 19. The original plan called for 25 flights over a three-month period, but aerial refueling and excellent engine performance and reliability allowed the number of flights to be cut in nearly half. Flight testing verified compatibility across the entire F-16 envelope, including high angle-of-attack and sideslip maneuvers, pushovers, inverted flight, and takeoff and landings. Test points included air starts, throttle transients, afterburner operation, primary and secondary fuel control operation, and formation flying.
In November, the engine will be tested in the first Block 60 aircraft at Fort Worth.

To improve performance and maintainability, the - 132 features "blisks" (bladed disks or IBRs, Integral Bladed Rotors) in the three-stage modular fan section instead of traditional blades. The engine also incorporates an enhanced durability radial augmentor (afterburner) and an optional ejector exhaust nozzle, plus control software modifications to optimize engine performance at all flight conditions. The Block 60 aircraft and engine also will feature an auto-throttle capability.

The new fan will provide the basis for the increased performance, with higher airflow and the ability to operate at a higher pressure ratio than its predecessor. Its 3D aerodynamic design provides higher efficiency, resulting in increased durability and improved reliability.

The -132's fewer, more durable, and more accessible components will result in significantly reduced maintenance costs and contribute to improved combat readiness rates. The -132 has been designed to be 100% compatible with existing F110 airframe installations to allow current operators the option of upgrading their current fleet with cost effective -132 kits.

The UAE Air Force has selected the F110-GE-132 for its eighty F-16 Block 60 aircraft. The first production engines are due to be delivered this year to support the UAE's aircraft delivery schedule from 2004.

Physical Dimensions
  • 3 Fan stages / 9 Compressor stages
  • Low-Pressure Turbine/High-Pressure Turbine 2/1
  • Maximum Diameter (Inches): 46.5
  • Length (Inches): 181.9
  • Dry Weight (Lb.) 4,050

Power Specifications
  • Airflow: 275 lb/s
  • Max. Power at Sea Level: 32,000lb
  • Bypass ratio: 0.68:1