Is P&W’s F135 crystal ball half-full — or half-empty?

Pratt & Whitney is building capacity to produce a maximum of 120 F135 engines in 2016 to support the Lockheed Martin F-35 programme, Pratt & Whitney military executive Tom Farmer told my colleague John Croft last week.

I think that’s an interesting data point as Congress debates the future of the F136, the General Electric and Rolls-Royce team’s alternate engine.

We know that Lockheed plans to build about 240 F-35s in 2016.

This means P&W would need to dramatically increase production capacity if the F136 is canceled. This is a perhaps hidden cost if Congress fails to restore funding for the alternate engine.

On the other hand, if the F136 survives, P&W’s projected output means the company is anticipating a 50-50 split at peak production levels. To me, that does not sound like a ringing endorsement of the competition strategy.

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One Response to Is P&W’s F135 crystal ball half-full — or half-empty?

  1. Erin Dick 10 June, 2009 at 5:10 pm #

    You make some good points, Stephen. Pratt & Whitney is 100 percent prepared to reach full rate production for all engines required by our customer for the F-35 program. At this point P&W is fully funded to have a smooth ramp to currently expected volumes, consistent with increased year over year rates that have been demonstrated on many other programs. We are well outside the lead time to put the capacity in place to meet the full program volumes. The reference to producing 120 Pratt & Whitney F135 engines in 2016 is a projection used for planning purposes, given we are six years out. The cost to ramp up to full volume production are planned into the program by the customer whether those engines are produced by one manufacturing company or by two. However, the ramp up is likely to have less risk and be more efficient for a single configuration. We are confident the JPO has established a reasonable ramp rate and planned appropriately for the total aircraft system and all the system components including the propulsion system.

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