LE BOURGET June 16, 2003 The U.S. Air Force (USAF) has released funding to purchase eight additional CFM56-2 engines to re-engine two RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft for delivery in 2004. The order is valued at approximately $31 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 Company. The USAF is CFM's largest customer and has ordered 1,800 CFM56-2s to reengine 425 aircraft. "The RC-135 and KC-135 re-engining continues to be among the most successful modernization programs in USAF history," said Al DiLibero, general manager of CFM's Military Engine Programs. "The 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 8 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.