This report was updated 10/29/21 at 7:14 PM ET to add a statement from Pratt & Whitney.
WASHINGTON: General Electric’s F110-129 engines will continue powering the Boeing F-15EX Eagle II, the Air Force announced today, awarding the company a $1.6 billion contract.
The decision put to rest a battle between Pratt & Whitney, which produced F100 engines for the legacy F-15 Eagle and F-15E Strike Eagle, and rival General Electric, which manufactured GE F110-129 engines for the first lot of eight F-15EX aircraft.
For the F-15EX engine competition, Pratt & Whitney offered the latest version of the F100, the F100-PW-229. No other offers were received, according to the Pentagon’s contract announcement.
The new contract covers engines for the second lot and beyond, with the possibility of supplying up to 329 engines for the twin-engine fighter.
“The United States Air Force is proud to partner with General Electric as our engine manufacturer that will power America’s newest, advanced F-15 aircraft,” said Brig. Gen. Dale R. White, the service’s program executive for fighters or advanced aircraft. “Not only will it reduce sustainment costs and drive down risk as it replaces our aging F-15C/D fleet, it will also deliver new capabilities that complement the existing and future TACAIR (tactical air) portfolio.”
The firm, fixed-price deal immediately obligates about $137 million for 29 engines, which covers all 12 Lot 2 aircraft and spares. The contract also includes seven additional options spanning the duration of the program.
Deliveries will start in October 2023 and run through June 2031, the Air Force stated in a news release.
The Air Force initially intended to sole source the GE engine because it had been certified for Qatar’s F-15QA and Saudi Arabia’s F-15SA, which form the basis of the EX model. However, Pratt & Whitney filed a protest against the service in 2020, prompting it to give up its sole-source strategy, reported Air Force Magazine.
A Pratt & Whitney spokesman declined to comment on whether the company would protest the award.
“We were disappointed to learn that the U.S. Air Force did not select our offering, the industry-leading F100-PW-229,” the spokesman said. “We believe that we offered the most trusted, proven engine with the overall best value to the USAF for the F-15EX propulsion competition; which would deliver high performance, reliability, and mission readiness for its F-15EX fleet.”
General Electric immediately reacted with enthusiasm to today’s announcement.
“The F110 production line is active today and ready to deliver on the U.S. Air Force’s urgent and compelling requirement for an F-15EX propulsion system,” said Shawn Warren, GE’s vice president and general manager of combat and trainer engines. “We’re pleased with the engine’s performance on the two F-15EX test aircraft flying today, and we’re excited to bring that performance to the entire planned fleet.”
The F-15EX made its first flight in February and was delivered to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., the following month. So far, the Air Force has taken ownership of two F-15EXs, and the remaining six jets from Lot 1 are expected to be delivered in fiscal 2023.
The service plans to buy at least 144 F-15EX fighters to replace its oldest C and D versions. Its July 2020 contract with aircraft maker Boeing, which has a ceiling of almost $23 billion, includes options to buy as many as 200 aircraft.