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.
Pratt & Whitney F135
GE Aviation and Rolls-Royce ended their self-funded development of an alternative engine for the F-35, bowing to Pentagon opposition and looming, deep reductions in U.S. defense spending.
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.
The Pentagon issued a “stop work” order for the GE Aviation F136 engine in late March, and the Fiscal Year 2011 U.S. defense budget was finally signed into law last month, without funding for the alternative F-35 engine. But the fight for the F136 is not yet over.
The expected costs to produce and sustain the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter in service are “simply unacceptable in this fiscal environment,” according to senior Pentagon officials. Air Force acquisition executive David Van Buren and F-35 Joint Program Office chief Vice Admiral David Venlet told a U.S.
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.
Pratt & Whitney and General Electric have bought their high-stakes battle over the provision of an alternative engine for the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Farnborough.
Pratt & Whitney’s F135 engine has achieved a first for the Lockheed Martin F-35 program by accelerating the F-35B STOVL version through the sound barrier last month. The test aircraf–BF-2–climbed to 30,000 feet and accelerated to Mach 1.07 at the off-shore test track near NAS Patuxent River in Maryland on June 14. The F-35 has supercruise capability and does not require the use of engine afterburner to achieve supersonic flight.
The U.S. House of Representatives on May 28 voted to retain funding for the F136 engine General Electric and Rolls-Royce are developing for the F-35 as an alternative to the Pratt & Whitney F135. The FY11 Defense Authorization Bill contains $485 million for continuation of the engine, which is around 70 percent through its development program.