WASHINGTON — General Electric Co., for the third year running, has won the largest share of the Air Force's jet engine business over arch rival Pratt & Whitney.
As was the case last year, however, the split between the two companies is almost even. The Air Force said GE would build 56% of its fighter jet engines in fiscal 1987, while Pratt & Whitney will build the remaining 44%.
Last year, the competition between the two firms produced a 54-46 split in favor of GE.
All together, the Air Force said it plans to acquire 365 jet engines in fiscal 1987. GE will build 205 and Pratt & Whitney 160. The Air Force declined to offer an estimate of the value of each deal, noting that the final contracts must still be negotiated.
The Air Force launched what has been called the "great engine war" in 1983 when it decided to stage annual competitions for the right to supply engines for its two front line fighters, the F-15 Eagle and the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Once Held Monopoly
Until that point, Pratt & Whitney, a division of the giant United Technologies Corp., had held a monopoly on providing the high-performance engines.
During the first round of the competition, however, GE shattered that monopoly by winning the right to produce 75% of the engines in fiscal 1985.
Pratt & Whitney rebounded last year in winning 46% of the fiscal 1986 total by improving the warranty and reliability of its engine.
The Air Force has said it plans to acquire almost 2,000 engines for new F-15s and F-16s between fiscal 1985 and fiscal 1990 at an estimated cost of $8 billion.
The Air Force said Friday in a prepared statement that because of the competition, it now expects to save more than $4 billion in "life-cycle costs" over the next 20 years on the engines. Those overall costs are projected at $16 billion after the savings.
"The acquisition strategy in this outstanding program continues to benefit both the Air Force and the taxpayer," Air Force Secretary Russell A. Rourke said Friday.
"We continue to see improvements in engine prices, support equipment prices, warranty protection and the contractors' willingness to support competition. Each contractor has been innovative in management and cost-reduction practices. I look forward to that trend continuing in the future," Rourke said.
With the fiscal 1987 split included, GE has now won contracts to produce 517 of its F110 engines, while Pratt & Whitney has won contracts to manufacture 358 of its F-100-220 engine.
The F-15 and F-16 are the Air Force's top-line fighters and are made by McDonnell Douglas and the General Dynamics, respectively. The Air force has so far acquired about 795 of the twin-engine F-15s and about 875 of the single-engine F-16s.
The Air Force hopes to acquire a total of 1,266 F-15s and 3,047 F-16s.