New Bomber Engines

The Air Force’s new bomber project doesn’t depend on getting Congress to fund the new advanced engine program proposed in the Fiscal 2015 defense budget, service acquisition executive William LaPlante told Air Force Magazine Wednesday. LaPlante said the new engine project isn’t specifically keyed to the new bomber or a new fighter, but is meant to explore advanced technologies with an eye toward efficiency and advancing the state of the art. “Once we decide to invest in advanced technology—the next generation of something—we should have in mind” the platforms it could support, LaPlante acknowledged. However, he also said, “We can’t build programs around” the success of a particular technology initiative. The engine initiative calls for $1 billion over the next five years, but the Pentagon has said it’s one of the things that will be cut if sequester continues in Fiscal 2016. LaPlante also said it’s “still too early to tell” if the contractor picked to build the airplane will select an engine for it or if the government will choose the powerplant. James Kenyon, general manager of next generation fighter programs for Pratt & Whitney, said Monday that his company is “prepared to work with the airframers to provide what they need” for the LRS-B, but declined to be specific about any particular engine Pratt is proposing for the project.