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Air Force Prize

Posted February 17, 2017

The Air Force Prize was created under the authority of the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes awards that spur innovation, solve tough problems, and advance core missions. The objective of the Air Force Prize is to spark development of a new kind of turbine engine with the fuel efficiency of a piston engine and the low weight and durability of a turbine engine.

The U.S. Air Force was founded on the idea that an independent service was required to properly exploit the revolutionary combat capabilities of the airplane. The Air Force mission has been fundamentally linked with the advancement of myriad technologies: propeller-driven aircraft to hypersonic weapons, space-based navigation and sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles and beyond. Our eye is constantly discerning new horizons as we create tomorrow’s technologies. The aerospace industry thrives on competition, from the Orteig Prize collected by Charles Lindbergh after crossing the Atlantic to the Ansari X Prize that spurred commercial space access. To encourage the development of future turbine engine technologies, the Secretary of the Air Force established The Air Force Prize.


To encourage innovation that supports the needs of the Air Force, a $2M prize is being established for the development of a turboshaft engine that can meet certain performance criteria. While it is possible that a device other than a turboshaft engine might meet some or all of these criteria, only turboshaft engines will satisfy the intent of this Prize because of their inherent long life and reliability.

A successful engine must demonstrate the following:


While operating on standard Jet A Fuel, the engine must complete two run profiles on an Air Force engine test stand.


The engine must be in the 100 BHP (74.57 KW) class: 50 bhp < max continuous output < 150 bhp (37.3 kW < max continuous output < 112 kW).


The engine must demonstrate a power-to-weight ratio ≥ 2.0 BHP/LB (wet installed weight) (3.3 KW/KG (wet installed weight)).


The engine must average brake-specific fuel consumption (BSFC) of 0.55 lbmfuel/bhp-hr (0.33kgfuel/kW-hr) or lower during two 6-hour Air Force test profiles consisting of mission representative power settings.

Corrections will be applied to compensate for variability in ambient conditions during testing.

NOTE: The official test procedures and Prize criteria will include additional details and clarification of Prize requirements and how those performance standards will be measured.


Teams can register for this competition as soon as they decide to participate. The value of early registration lies in an Air Force review of a team’s basic concept to determine whether the approach meets the intent of the contest. It is the goal of the Air Force to use this review to provide teams with feedback early in the process, before the team expends too many resources designing and building hardware in pursuit of this Prize.

See rules in Attachment A related to team registration.


Only a registered team can request that the Air Force test its engine to verify that it meets Prize parameters. A team must allow 30 days after Air Force receipt of its registration before being eligible to submit a request for verification testing in an Air Force test facility. One of the key requirements for requesting verification testing will be test data showing that the engine can reasonably be expected to meet the Prize criteria.

See rules in Attachment A related to requesting verification testing.


The first eligible team that provides an engine meeting all Prize criteria will be declared the winner. The Air Force will transfer the Prize money to the account specified by the team leader named in the registration. All tax liabilities are the responsibility of the winning team.


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