On the military side of operations, Flight magazine reported on 2 October this year that Rolls-Royce had won a $49 million contract to establish an engine maintenance facility at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.
The new facility Global Hawk engine depot will perform maintenance on Rolls-Royce’s AE 3007H, which powers the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned air vehicles flown by the US for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. They could be produced in significant numbers not just for military but for civil use in farming, search and rescue, mapping, and delivery.
The new facility is a public-private partnership, the first for Rolls-Royce, and will be staffed by both Rolls-Royce and US Air Force personnel.
The AE 3007H is a derivative of a model used on small airliners and corporate jets. Several hundred of the engines have been manufactured. The engine produces 8,600 lbs of thrust, and allows the RQ-4 to remain airborne for over 30 hours. The US Air Force currently operates around 30 Global Hawks, with more on the way.
A large part of the aerospace industry has always been driven by the requirements of the military and that will continue for the foreseeable future. This is important technology in which Britain plays a leading role, and a technology that could be harnessed for the benefit of Britain, especially in civil aviation, transport and delivery.
• Companion article: Aerospace – vital for Britain