Pratt & Whitney has proposed a shift to a multi-year sustainment contract four years early for the engine that powers the Lockheed Martin F-35, in a bid to reduce projected maintenance costs by a "double-digit" percentage.

The F135 engine is not scheduled until 2019 to enter a performance-based logistics (PBL) contract that ties payments and fees to achieve certain metrics, such as reductions in time between overhaul.

 F-35 night - Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin

P&W has proposed to the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) accelerating the PBL contract to begin in 2015, says Bennett Croswell, president of the company's military engines division.

The PBL would establish a fixed price for annual sustainment services to cap the government's risk, Croswell says. The cap would be set at a level that is a double-digit percentage reduction compared with the baseline estimate in the selected acquisition reports, he adds.

"If we came in below the [PBL] baseline we'd be willing to share the benefit with the government," Croswell says.

The US military began adopting PBL maintenance deals more than 20 years ago, but they have become controversial in recent years. The US Navy remains committed to PBL contracts on several aviation programmes, while the US Air Force has converted several such deals to more transactional arrangements.

The government leadership for the F-35 straddles both services, with the sustainment office headed by a navy official and the top officer - Lt Gen Christopher Bogdan - coming from the air force.

"I think Gen Bogdan is open to anything that will reduce the cost for the programme," Croswell says.

Source: Flight International