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3 Takeaways from POLITICO Defense Summit on Maintaining U.S. Air Superiority

November 20, 2023 | by Matthew Lehner
GE Aerospace partnered with POLITICO on its Defense Summit this month to highlight the company's history, scale and expertise -- and to highlight a major milestone in the company's efforts to put new capabilities in the hands of the warfighter thanks to the XA100 adaptive engine.

David Tweedie, vice president and general manager for advanced combat engines, spoke in front of hundreds of Capitol Hill staff, defense journalists and other decision makers during the summit.

Here are three takeaways from the sponsored conversation:


Air dominance it not a birthright, it takes continued investment

It is easy to assume that since America and its allies have long dominated the skies, we always will. But as David Tweedie points out, it is not a birthright and it takes continued investment.

"We look back on a special date: April 15, 1953. That was actually the last time that a U.S. ground troop suffered a casualty through an enemy air attack. And so that's over 70 years now of a pretty good winning streak of the United States and our allies controlling the skies. But that is not a birthright. Every generation has earned that.”

"I sincerely hope that 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 30 years from now, someone else can come on this stage and can make that same comment about that winning streak for our country and our allies … But it requires investment and follow-through."


The XA100 engine is tested and ready for the fight

Maintaining air superiority means providing the warfighter with new capabilities, and GE Aerospace is partnering with the U.S. Airforce to make a generational leap in combat engine technology. David shared breaking news about GE Aerospace being one step closer to that goal.

"We have actually successfully completed testing on our third phase of testing on our second XA100 engine."

"You can see this is real. This is a real engine that we have built and tested in very close partnership with the United States Air Force. It's a shared success. They've been a tremendous partner throughout all the design and maturation supporting us all along the way. When I make quotes like 30 percent more range, more acceleration, better thermal management, it's based on hard empirical data."

Innovation is key to maintaining air dominance

During the conversation, the moderator asked David what capacities would allow the U.S. to maintain its air superiority. David noted that innovation is key:

"We look at adaptive engines, which provides the ability for a single engine to flex different operational modes within a given mission. It provides the ability to operate more like a fuel-efficient commercial engine in subsonic cruises and loiter conditions. But then it can flex on the fly to a more traditional high-thrust, high-performance engine. An adaptive engine would be a new innovation we could bring to bear to the war fighter. We also look at maturing and bringing new materials and new manufacturing technologies to bear to improve the performance of combat engines."

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GE Aerospace is a world-leading provider of jet and turboprop engines, as well as integrated systems for commercial, military, business and general aviation aircraft.