GE joins Airbus and Lockheed Martin to build the LMXT

GE Aerospace's CF6-80E1 engine has been officially chosen as the propulsion system for Lockheed Martin's planned LMXT USAF strategic tanker.
Christopher McFadden
Artist's impression of the LMXT.

Lockheed Martin 

Lockheed Martin and Airbus have officially selected GE Aerospace's CF6-80E1 engine as the propulsion system of its up-and-coming Lockheed Martin Next Tanker (LMXT) strategic tanker. This aircraft is a solution to the U.S. Air Force’s KC-135 so-called "recapitalization plan" and is built on the combat-proven design of the A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT). It also intends to replace the USAF's existing KC-135 tanker fleet by around 2025.

The LMXT team has chosen GE's CF6 engine for its exceptional durability, reliability, and performance. The CF6-80E1 variant, developed specifically for A330, boasts impressive technological advancements, providing nearly 70,000 pounds of thrust and a 15% increase in fuel efficiency compared to its predecessors.

The production of GE's CF6 engine for the LMXT is expected to create over 3,000 jobs in the U.S., both directly and indirectly. These jobs will include advanced manufacturing, engineering, and testing positions, requiring highly skilled workers. Additionally, the production of the LMXT's engine will involve work in more than 25 states nationwide.

“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," the executive vice president of Lockheed Martin, Greg Ulmer, said. “This partnership with GE further demonstrates how the LMXT will strengthen and diversify the critical US tanker industrial base,” he added.

GE's CF6 family powers nearly 70% of the world’s wide-body aircraft; the engine encompasses more than 50 years of aircraft propulsion history. The CF6 engine entered service in 1971, with a history of service on major commercial and military platforms such as the Lockheed Martin C-5M "Super Galaxy." GE has delivered more than 8,500 CF6 engines to date.

Optimal choice for the U.S. Air Force

The announcement follows a competitive selection process focused on delivering a best-value solution to the U.S. Air Force. In selecting an engine already used on multiple U.S. Air Force platforms, the LMXT aligns with a common supply chain and existing knowledge base that can translate to increased mission readiness rates.

"I join thousands of Airbus employees across the U.S. in welcoming GE to the great American team that will build the LMXT for our Air Force," said C. Jeffrey Knittel, chairman and CEO of Airbus Americas. "The A330 MRTT has been refueling U.S. aircraft in combat since 2015, and I look forward to seeing a GE-powered LMXT step into that role, providing a level of capability that U.S. forces have clearly shown they need," he added.

"The LMXT strategic tanker is the optimal aircraft for GE's CF6-80E1 engine. Developed exclusively for the A330, the unmatched CF6 engine offers a combination of outstanding reliability, durability, and time on the wing, all of which are critical requirements for a military tanker," said Amy Gowder, president and CEO, GE Aerospace's Defense & Systems business. "GE Aerospace is proud to join longtime partners Lockheed Martin and Airbus on the LMXT," he added.

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board