The United States Air Force (USAF) has ordered 28 CFM International CFM56-2 engines, valued at $93 million, to re-engine RC-135 reconnaissance and KC-135 refueling tanker aircraft.
The USAF ordered the engines under a new five-year "requirements contract" established between the U.S. government and CFM International. The contract enables the USAF to order up to 267 engines, at a pre-established price, between now and the year 2002, either through annual engine procurement or on an as-needed basis.
CFM International (CFMI) is a 50/50 joint company of Snecma (Safran Group) of France and General Electric of the United States.
Of the first 28 engines ordered, 20 are designated to re-engine RC-135 reconnaissiance aircraft and the other eight engines (identified as F108 engines in this application) are for the on-going re-engining of USAF and Air National Guard Reserve tankers. Each aircraft is powered by four engines. Since 1980, the USAF has either funded or taken delivery of 412 re-engined KC-135R tankers.
The CFM56-2 engine, rated at 22,000 pounds, replaces older TF33 turbofan engines on the RC-135 and KC-135 aircraft, thus providing the aircraft with extended range, improved reliability, and dramatically lower maintenance costs.
In addition to the KC-135, the CFM56-2 powers the C-135FR tanker of the French Air Force, the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) of the British, French, and Saudi air forces, and the E-6A communications aircraft of the U.S. Navy.