The Air Force will award a $2 million prize to the first entrant to successfully develop a 100-horsepower turboshaft, fuel-efficient engine. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James first announced the “Air Force Prize” in January at the Cost Curve summit. “In order to continue to move forward and to ensure that our Air Force has the best technology available, it is imperative that we collaborate with industry and academia,” said James at the time, according to a May 5 Air Force release. Specifically, the engine must operate on Jet A fuel, “demonstrate a brake-specific fuel consumption less than or equal to 0.55 pounds of fuel per horsepower per hour,” and generate at least 2.0 horsepower per pound. Performance data should be submitted to the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. A verification test will be conducted at an AFRL test facility before the prize money is awarded, states the release. “Recent advances in materials and manufacturing techniques hold extraordinary promise for someone with a great idea and the ability to make it a reality,” says Lt. Col.? Aaron Tucker, program manager of the Air Force Prize. “Rapid prototyping techniques like 3D printing can help produce a turbine engine that meets the performance criteria.”
Unlike nearly every other innovative technology throughout history, Maj. Gen. DeAnna M. Burt believes the space enterprise emerged backward. “Every other domain started with an entrepreneur who built something,” Burt, the special assistant to the Chief of Space Operations, told an audience at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference.