PARIS AIR SHOW: Pratt urges single supplier strategy for JSF

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Pratt & Whitney (hall 5) is touting the benefits of a single supplier strategy for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, countering the efforts of a rival team involving General Electric and Rolls-Royce.

Citing the development advantage held by the lead JSF engine, Warren Boley, vice-president F135 programme for Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, says: "The F135 core will have over one million [flight] hours by the time the F-35 enters service."

More than 100,000 operational hours have already been recorded on F119 engines powering the US Air Force's Lockheed F-22 Raptors, with the current design to provide the core for the F135.

P&W expects an F-35B to perform its first vertical take off around September, and says the F135 "passed all criteria" during recent hover pit tests conducted by Lockheed in Fort Worth, Texas. Three test aircraft have now logged almost 130 flight hours in 99 sorties with the design.

The GE/R-R Fighter Engine Team continues to urge US Congress to reinsert funds for the alternative F136 in the Department of Defense's fiscal year 2010 budget, saying a propulsion system choice will reduce costs over the life of the programme.

P&W is meanwhile optimistic of securing further sales linked to the F-22, despite a DoD plan to halt production of the type after 187 aircraft. Congress could soon add eight Raptors through a supplemental spending bill, and the possibility of export sales - primarily linked to Japanese interest - has also resurfaced within the last few weeks.

"We're not talking about shutting down any time soon," says Bill Begert, head of business development. However, P&W says clarity is needed within the next year on Washington's long-term plans for the fighter.

Military Engines president Tom Farmer also confirms that the company is interested in participating in Embraer's C-390 tactical transport programme. "We are in discussions," he says. "We see that as a very good air system." Part of Boeing's team promoting the KC-767 to meet the USAF's KC-X tanker requirement, P&W is also "anxious to see a draft request for proposals within a few weeks to compete again".