Need for Speed: A close look at the Art of the Afterburner
What’s faster than a jet engine?
Turbine engines are notoriously capable of achieving incredible speeds. But shortly after their initial development, a novel idea was born… Dump raw jet fuel straight into the exhaust of a jet engine.
Rather than fueling the engine once, when the incoming air is at its most compressed, engines fitted with afterburners also known as “reheat,” inject fuel twice. The result is a phenomenal mixture of combusting fuel and hot gasses roaring out the back of the engine, thrusting it and everything to it forward with incredible energy.
Future of Afterburners
While some rapidly advancing areas of aviation, especially drone and eco-friendly initiatives, are making great strides with the need for afterburners, they are solidly here to stay. Recon drones and commercial aircraft generally don’t require the acceleration provided by afterburners, but it is absolutely essential for modern fighter jets.
The F-35 Lightning II, the latest fighter jet to join the US Military inventory, is equipped with an afterburning engine capable of producing 43,000 lbf of thrust.