As fourth-generation fighters are slowly pushed aside by next-generation aircraft, it is easy to forget the importance of these older platforms. Built amid Cold War tensions, these fighters were the pinnacle of technology. The F-14 and fictional MiG-28 in the film Top Gun defined what was cool about flying fighters. The F-14, F-15, and F-16 were indeed the top dogs; however, aside from their era, they shared very little in common.
Enter the F110
The GE F110 gas turbine engine has powered all of these aircraft. Although the Pratt & Whitney F100 engine was also an option on the F-15 and F-16, the GE engine has spanned all three platforms in some form. But despite its many applications, this old workhorse is nearing the end of its production run.
Originally derived from the F101 engine, which powers the U.S. Air Force’s B-1B bomber, the F110 was optimized for fighter aircraft. With the ability, depending on the variant, to produce 27,000-32,500 pounds of thrust, it was a very powerful engine for its time, and still is. Reliability and ease of use are the hallmarks of this engine, so much so that it was chosen to power later-model F-14s, replacing the P&W TF30-P-414A powerplant.
Current F110 applications include many fighters of the U.S. Air Force, South Korea, Singapore and Saudi Arabia. The single-engine F-16 and dual-engine F-15 are forecast to keep F110 production running into 2019, when production is forecast to cease, barring further orders.
Remaining orders for F-15s for Saudi Arabia and F-16s for Oman have production figures forecast at over 40 engines in each of 2016 and 2017, followed by a slight drop to 30 in 2018. Only a few engines will be produced in 2019, to equip the remaining F-15s on order.
The F110 is a link between three very influential fourth-generation aircraft. Despite a lack of new aircraft orders, the engine will soldier on for years to come.
Forecast International produces two distinct Power Systems products. The Aviation Gas Turbine Forecast presents the 10-year outlook for aviation turbofan, turboprop and turboshaft engines and more. The Industrial & Marine Turbine Forecast covers the markets for gas and steam turbines, mechanical drive engines, and marine power, among others.