RTX is developing a 1 megawatt electric generator for the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) as part of its Advanced Turbine Technologies for Affordable Mission-Capability program. The low-spool generator could have multiple applications for future manned and unmanned military platforms.
With the addition of advanced mission systems, avionics and high-energy weapons, the next generation of military aircraft will require more onboard electric power than ever before. In the future, this 1MW generator — developed by the company’s Collins Aerospace business — could be used to power such systems safely and efficiently.
Applied another way, the generator could be paired with a fuel-burning engine in a hybrid-electric propulsion architecture. In this way, the generator could help increase fuel efficiency to maximize aircraft range, minimize aerial refueling needs and reduce carbon emissions.
The company aims to deliver hardware to the AFRL and test the generator to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5 in 2024 using The Grid, its advanced electric power systems lab slated to open later this year in Rockford, Illinois. RTX’s Pratt & Whitney business is supporting the 1MW generator program by studying future engine integration opportunities.
“While future military aircraft continue to take shape, one thing we know is that these platforms will require electric power in the megawatt range,” said Henry Brooks, president, Power & Controls for Collins Aerospace. “To that end, we’re working with the AFRL to design a generator that will give our customers the onboard power they need and the flexibility to tailor its use for multiple potential applications.”
The AFRL 1MW generator complements the MW-class motors Collins Aerospace is developing for the RTX hybrid-electric demonstrator programs, including the hybrid-electric flight demonstrator, led by Pratt & Whitney Canada, and the SWITCH project, supported by the European Union’s Clean Aviation initiative. Taken together, the solutions support the company’s overall strategy for delivering advanced electric power systems for the next generation of military and commercial aircraft.