The wraps came off the new GE Rolls-Royce F136 engine for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme at the show yesterday. Now the engine is expected to begin ground-testing next week at GE's facility in Evendale, Ohio.

The unveiling was performed by US Navy Rear Admiral Steven L Enewold (pictured centre), who is deputy programme director, JSF programme office, along with Colin Green (right), president of Rolls-Royce Defence Aerospace and Russ Sparkes of GE Aircraft Engines.

The first development engine will be ground-tested for up to 500h before its expected first flight in 2007. The engine is expected to go into production in 2011.

The F136 will be fully interchangeable and affordable to meet the requirements of all the aircraft variants. Engines will be tested for all JSF variants: STOVL for the US Marine Corps and UK Royal Navy, CTOL for the US Air Force, and the carrier variant for the US Navy.

Rolls-Royce describes the engine as a 'plug and play' unit. "You could take an F135 engine out of an F-35 and simply replace it with an F136," says spokesman Nick Britton.

The development work is being funded by the four-year Phase III pre-System Development and Demonstration (SDD) contract, which runs up to 2005.

Source: Flight Daily News