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The Next Great Engine War: Analysis and Recommendations for Managing the Joint Strike Fighter Engine Competition

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Master's thesis

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This thesis examines the competition between Pratt Whitney PW and General Electric Aircraft Engines GEAE to improve the engine for the air superiority fighter, the F-16. This first Great Engine War was an attempt by the U.S. Government to encourage Pratt Whitney, the sole winner of the F-16 fighter engine propulsion contract, to be more responsive to shortcomings in the design and operation of its F100 engine. When PW declared that any design changes would be out of the scope of the current contract, the government contracted with GEAE to produce an alternate engine design to compete with the F100 for F-16CD Block 30 acquisition. The GEAE F110-GE-100 engine was successful and the competition did motivate PW to improve their engine design as well. After describing the history of the Joint Strike Fighter JSF Program, the author derives recommendations from the first Great Engine War to guide the competition between PW F135 engine and GEAERolls Royce F136 engine to produce the engine for the JSF. His research yielded the following recommendations to guide future JSF engine acquisition 1 strictly adhere to airframe commonality for either engine, 2 continue to purchase and support the engines as Government-Furnished Equipment GFE, 3 ensure that competition criteria include supportability costs, 4 do not pursue a warranty strategy, 5 plan for competition on an annual basis, 6 maintain a concerted effort to encourage both competitors to attempt to win the maximum share, and 7 do not participate in a Component Improvement Program CIP. The thesis includes interviews with stakeholders in the F-16 engine competition and the Joint Strike Fighter Program.

Subject Categories:

  • Attack and Fighter Aircraft
  • Administration and Management
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

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