In the operations center at the Rolls-Royce factory in Bristol, UK, it is well past midnight, but engineers are still manning some of the dozen consoles, standing by to receive queries, consult databases and dispense their technical expertise to operators of the company’s military engines anywhere in the world.
Defense » Military Engines
News and issues relating to defense and military aircraft engines.
Pratt & Whitney’s engines power a wide range of military aircraft in operation around the world, but 2011’s developments in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Lightning II program made the company’s year–especially as its F135 became the sole powerplant for all three Lockheed Martin JSF variants: the conventional F-35A, STOVL F-35B and carrier-based (CV) F-35C.
Air Technology Engines (ATE) of Naples, Fla., signed a T53 service center agreement with Honeywell, authorizing ATE to repair and overhaul Honeywell’s T53 series engine, which powers the Bell UH-1H Huey and other helicopters.
U.S. military aircraft sales rose by 6.7 percent, to $66.5 billion, in 2011, the 10th and probably final year of growth before steep government spending reductions. Sales of military aircraft are expected to decline by $1.4 billion in 2012, according to the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA).
Northrop Grumman is hoping that funds to re-engine the first two operational E-8C JSTARS radar surveillance aircraft will be provided in the Fiscal 2013 budget next year. The test bed aircraft is now flying with JT8D-219 engines that Northrop Grumman has modified with a new pneumatic system that it claims “vastly improves reliability and the hardware’s life cycle.” Although the JT8D is hardly new technology, the 17 operational E-8Cs are powered by even older JT3Ds. A $1.7 billion program to replace them was started some years ago, and the test bed first flew with JT8Ds in December 2008.
Although it gained EASA certification in May, the Europrop International (EPI) TP400-D6 engine that powers the Airbus Military A400M airlifter subsequently encountere
China has placed additional orders for Russian AL-31-series fighter engines. State arms trade agency Rosoboronexport clinched two big contracts earlier this year. One is for more than 150 AL-31Fs as replacements for earlier engines of same type that power the Su-27/Su-30MKK/MK2 fighters, that are designated J-11 in China. Engines under this contract will be assembled by the Ufa-based UMPO factory.
All 20 Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters now flying were grounded August 3, following the failure of the integrated power pack (IPP) on an F-35A during a ground run at Edwards AFB.
The Joint Program Office in the Pentagon said that the move was precautionary, until the root causes of the problem were understood. Lockheed Martin said it is working hard to resolve the issue. Honeywell supplies the IPP.
China has signed a fifth contract with Russia’s Rosoboronexport for the supply of Saturn AL-31FN military turbofan engines from the MMPP Salyut factory to power the Chengdu J-10 multi-role fighter, according to reports from Moscow.
Pratt & Whitney is confident that the problems with the STOVL version of the F135 engine powering the F-35B have been solved. At the Paris Air Show last week, Chris Flynn, vice president of fifth-generation programs, said that solutions to the lift-fan clutch engagement, driveshaft expansion and roll-post heating were all in production.