Pratt & Whitney has delivered the first F135 production-standard short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) engine to Lockheed Martin for the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter program. The engine manufacturer plans to deliver another 18 STOVL engines next year. Any further design changes will likely be limited to “mostly software tweaks,” a P&W representative told AIN. Meanwhile, the U.S. Marine Corps has bowed to the inevitable and abandoned the December 2012 target date for initial operating capability of the F-35B. It has not announced a revised date.
The General Electric/Rolls-Royce team continues to tout the alternative F-136 engine for the F35 as a better performer for less money. Contrary to the Pentagon’s urgings, the U.S. Senate last week passed a FY2011 defense funding bill that retained funding for F136 development. A GE spokesman told AIN that company engineers have designed a better engine because they began developing the powerplant when the aircraft was more mature.
But officials with P&W caution their competitor’s engine couldn’t be integrated with the F-35 until at least 2014. The next hurdle for P&W is a cost-cutting program that aims to match the F135 engine’s price to that of the company’s F119 engine that powers the USAF’s F-22 Raptor. The F135 was derived from the F119.