Lockheed Martin and Airbus leaders announced the selection of GE Aerospace's CF6-80E1 propulsion system for the LMXT strategic tanker. The LMXT is Lockheed Martin's solution for the U.S. Air Force's KC-135 recapitalization plan and is built on the combat-proven design of the A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT).
Production of GE's CF6 engine for the LMXT is anticipated to support more than 3,000 direct and indirect American jobs, including in highly skilled advanced manufacturing, engineering, and testing. In total, the LMXT's engine production alone will incorporate work in more than 25 states.
"America's tanker fleet will play a critical role in meeting future mission requirements. This means the LMXT must use capable and proven technologies, such as the MRTT strategic tanker and GE Aerospace's CF6 engine," said Greg Ulmer, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. "This partnership with GE further demonstrates how the LMXT will strengthen and diversify the critical U.S. tanker industrial base."
Powering nearly 70% of the world's wide-body aircraft, GE's CF6 engine family encompasses more than 50 years of aircraft propulsion history. The CF6 engine first entered service in 1971, with a history of service on major commercial and military platforms such as the Lockheed Martin C-5M Super Galaxy. GE has delivered more than 8,500 CF6 engines to date, powering 10 unique commercial and military aircraft with 25 variants.
GE's CF6 engine is selected for the LMXT due to its proven durability, reliability and performance. Designed specifically for the A330, the CF6-80E1 variant offers strong technological advancements over previous CF6 engines, including nearly 70,000 pounds of thrust and 15% greater fuel efficiency.
"I join thousands of Airbus employees across the U.S. in welcoming GE to the great American team that will build the LMXT for our Air Force," said C. Jeffrey Knittel, chairman and CEO, Airbus Americas. "The A330 MRTT has been refueling U.S. aircraft in combat since 2015, and I look forward to seeing a GE-powered LMXT step into that role, providing a level of capability that U.S. forces have clearly shown they need."
The announcement follows a competitive selection process focused on delivering a best-value solution to the U.S. Air Force. In selecting an engine that is already in use on multiple U.S. Air Force platforms, the LMXT aligns with a common supply chain and existing knowledge base that can translate to increased mission readiness rates.
"The LMXT strategic tanker is the optimal aircraft for GE's CF6-80E1 engine. Developed exclusively for the A330, the unmatched CF6 engine offers a combination of outstanding reliability, durability, and time on wing, all of which are critical requirements for a military tanker," said Amy Gowder, president and CEO, GE Aerospace's Defense & Systems business."GE Aerospace is proud to join longtime partners Lockheed Martin and Airbus on the LMXT."
The manufacturer selection follows previous announcements that Lockheed Martin and Airbus will expand operations in Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas to support future LMXT manufacturing, assembly and configuration. The LMXT will first be produced as an A330 airliner at Airbus' U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, Alabama, before being configured for strategic tanking at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics facility in Marietta, Georgia. Airbus will produce the LMXT's aerial refueling boom system in western Arkansas.
Built on the combat-proven design of the MRTT, the LMXT features a fully certified automatic air-to-air refueling (A3R) boom, Enhanced Vision System and integrated JADC2 suite — key differentiators in operational theaters like the Indo-Pacific. As the strategic tanker of choice for 14 nations around the world, the MRTT currently refuels fighter, transport and maritime patrol aircraft for the U.S. and allied partners.