Bad news today for the General Electric/Rolls-Royce team producing the F136 alternate engine for the F-35 in defiance of the Department of Defense’s desire to kill the program.
GE/Rolls issued this statement about one hour ago to reporters:
Approximately three hours into a mechanical check-out on September 23 at the GE Aviation facility in Evendale, Ohio, an F136 development engine experienced an anomaly at near maximum fan speed.
Engine #008 was shut down in a controlled manner. Initial inspection revealed damage to airfoils in the front fan and compressor area. The engine is currently being disassembled for a thorough investigation.
The GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team is researching the manufacturing and assembly records for engine #008, an endurance engine in the development program.
The Fighter Team has run several builds of five F136 development engines for more than 1000 hours since early 2009 without experiencing this issue.
GE/Roll-Royce promptly inspected two other development engines now running in the program and neither engine exhibited similar distress. Prior builds were also inspected with no findings.
The Fighter Engine Team is continuing to run test engines #005 at the USAF Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) in Tullahoma, Tenn., and #007 at GE in Evendale.