- The U.S. Air Force (USAF) has released funding to purchase 36 additional CFM56-2 engines to re-engine four KC-135 tanker and five RC-135 recognizance aircraft for delivery in the 2001/2002 time frame.
The CFM56-2 engine (designated the F108 for military applications) is produced by CFM International, 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 more than 1,797 engines ordered to power 431 re-engined aircraft. In total, CFM has received orders for over 2,100 CFM56-2 engines for more than 497 military aircraft (C-135 and B707 combined).
Since the first F108 was first delivered in 1984, the fleet has logged more than 7.5 million flight hours and has accumulated the most reliable engine record in the USAF inventory. CFM is actively working with both the USAF and Air National Guard to reengine the remaining KC-135E fleet, which would encompass more than 100 aircraft.
"KC-135 re-engining has been one of the most successful modernization programs in USAF history, and this latest order is yet another USAF endorsement of what we have been able to accomplish," said Karl Matson Director of CFM's Military Engine Programs. "The CFM56-2/F108 is ideally matched to the KC-135 and RC-135 missions, and its economics have provided the USAF with tremendous value in terms of fleet operations, commonality, and maintenance costs."
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. 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.
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 B707 based E-3 Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft for the British, French, and Saudi air forces, and the B707 based E-6A communications aircraft for the U.S. Navy. The proven value of the CFM56-2 is currently under evaluation by both NATO and the USAF for re-engining of their E-3 AWACS and JSTARS programs, respectively.