Pratt & Whitney expects to test an upgraded version of its F135 afterburning turbofan later this year, a top company official says. The engine is installed on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
"We'll run a demonstrator this year that will demonstrate hot section technologies in the combustor and the turbine that could provide another 5% thrust," says Bennett Croswell, president of P&W's military engines division.
The improved hot section technologies could also be used to improve fuel efficiency, which is becoming increasingly important as the Pentagon scrambles to save money in an era of declining budgets.
"We're also working with the [US] Navy on something called the fuel burn reduction programme that will leverage those hot section technologies that could get you 5% reduction in fuel burn," Croswell says.
P&W has been working on an incremental growth path for the F135 engine, which currently produces 28,000lbs dry thrust and 43,000lbs of afterburning thrust, for a number of years. The company will continue working on incremental improvements to the F135 as it has done before with its previous designs, Croswell says.
In fact, Croswell says, some of the improvements being made to the F135 could be retrofitted back into the Lockheed F-22 Raptor's F119 from which the F135 was originally derived.