FARNBOROUGH, United Kingdom July 22, 2002 The U.S. Air Force (USAF) has released funding to purchase 24 additional CFM56-2 engines to re-engine six RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft for delivery in the 2003/2004 time frame. The order is valued at approximately $120 million.
The CFM56-2 engine (designated the F108 for military applications) is produced by CFM International (CFM), a 50/50 joint company between Snecma Moteurs (Safran Group) of France and General Electric of the United States. The USAF is CFM's largest customer, with 1,787 engines ordered to re-engine 423 aircraft.
"The RC-135 and KC-135 re-engining have been among the most successful modernization programs in USAF history," said Al DiLibero, general manager of CFM's Military Engine Programs. "The CFM56-2/F108 is ideally matched to the KC-135 and RC-135 missions, and its economic benefits have provided the USAF with tremendous value in terms of fleet operations, commonality, and maintenance costs."
The F108 engine that powers the RC-135 is rated at 22,000 pounds (98 kN) thrust, providing the aircraft with extended range, improved reliability, and lower maintenance costs than the original TF33 engines. The F108-powered KC-135 is capable of off-loading more fuel to receiver aircraft than the original tanker version, with significantly better engine fuel consumption, longer time on station, and higher altitudes. CFM is actively working with both the USAF and Air National Guard to re-engine the remaining KC-135E fleet, which would encompass more than 100 aircraft. Since the first F108 was first delivered in 1984, the fleet has logged more than 9.5 million flight hours and has accumulated the most reliable engine record in the USAF inventory.
In addition to the KC-135 and RC-135 programs, the CFM56-2 also powers KC-135 tanker aircraft for the French, Turkish and Singapore air forces, as well as the Boeing 707 based E-3 Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft for the British, French, and Saudi air forces, and the 707-based E-6A communications aircraft for the U.S. Navy. The proven value of the CFM56-2 is currently under evaluation by NATO for re-engining of its E-3 AWACS (Airborn Warning and Control System) aircraft.