General Electric to provide engines for unmanned combat air vehicles

A variant of the engine used to power the F-117 Stealth Fighter will carry its low observable technology into the first experimental Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle

by J.R. Wilson

EVENDALE, OHIO —A variant of the engine used to power the F-117 Stealth Fighter will carry its low observable technology into the first experimental Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV).

Boeing Phantom Works in St. Louis will integrate the GE Aircraft Engines F404-102D engine into the X-45B UCAV being developed under a $191 million advanced technology demonstrator effort for the U.S. Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

General Electric engine designers will provide three powerplants for the single-engine aircraft's flight test program, scheduled to begin in 2005.

More than 3,700 variants of the F404 have been put into service on several US and allied military aircraft, including the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18 jet fighter-bomber.

The F404-102 variant originally began development together with Korea Aerospace Industries as the powerplant for the KAI/Lockheed Martin T-50/A-50 advanced trainer/light fighter.

Qualification on the FADEC (Full Authority Digital Electronic Control) engine was completed in 2001, with first flight of the T-50 scheduled for later this year.

General Electric officials say the UCAV-102D variant has specific single-engine application reliability and redundancy features required for the unmanned program.

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