Frequently Asked Questions


    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.

  • Who owns the winning engine at the end of the contest?

    The contestant owns the engine and all rights to the design and intellectual property.
    While the Air Force will own the data from the verfication testing, the contestant will have a pertetual, royalty free, non-exclusive license to use the test data for any purpose.

  • Does the Air Force plan to buy the engine for a system?

    There is no plan to use the winning engine as part of an Air Force system at this time, but we are always interested in innovative technology with direct impact to the Air Force mission.

  • What if another team wins the prize before my engine is ready, but my engine turns out better?

    The prize goes to the first team to meet all contest criteria.

  • Can I still get my engine tested after the winner is declared?

    While AFRL would certainly be interested in obtaining test data for any viable design or innovative component, we can't guarantee availabilty of the test resources to accommodate all requests. Decisions to test additional innovative turbine engines are outside the scope of the Air Force Prize and will be made on a case-by-case basis.

  • My engine isn't a turbine but it is really awesome. Can I win the prize?

    No. This prize is for turbine engines, and the Air Force retains the right to determine whether your design meets the intent of the contest. However, if your concept is really that impressive there may be interest outside the scope of the Air Force Prize.

  • Is there an rpm requirement for the engine’s output shaft?

    Currently, there are no rpm requirements for the output shaft. If you anticipate power output shaft speeds above 95,000 rpm please advise us so test equipment options can be considered.

  • But (name here) is a better fuel, why can't I use that?

    Because it doesn’t meet the Prize goals.

    While the Air Force does a lot of research pertaining to fuel and remains interested in fuel options, there are some compelling reasons to use a standard battlefield fuel.

  • Are fuel additives permitted?

    Not during prize verification testing. The engine must meet the Prize criteria without the use of fuel additives, and must use the Jet A fuel provided by the Air Force during verification testing.

  • Can a fuel other than Jet A be used during engine start?

    No. The engine must be able to both start and run on standard Jet A.

  • Are there requirements for engine oil or other fluids/lubricants?

    Not at this time, however, it will be necessary to submit material safety data sheets for all materials, fluids, lubricants, etc. before the engine can undergo verification testing in an Air Force facility. If any substance is found to be too hazardous for testing, the Air Force will reject the verification test request.

  • Are oil pumps and fuel pumps part of the engine weight?

    Yes. Balancing contest and engine requirements is part of the challenge.

  • Can I get credit for the thrust my engine is generating?

    The only power being measured is power output via a shaft.

    However, if a turbine is configured to drive a fan or propeller in addition to providing shaft power, it might be feasible to measure the output of both shafts. If you think there is merit for a dual output configuration, submit a concept description so the Air Force can make a judgment as to whether it meets the intent of the contest.

  • If the engine performance is really close, is that good enough?

    No. The engine must meet the specified criteria.

  • I don't meet the requirements to be a registered team member; is there any way that I can participate?

    Registered team members must be a US Person (citizen or lawful permanent resident) 18 years or older, but anyone else can participate as a collaborator or supplier to a team. The rules also prohibit federal employees and contractors who are administering this contest from supporting a team's effort to win. Finally, federal employees can't participate in their official capacity.