A 10-month “accelerated mission test” of Pratt & Whitney’s F135 engine has demonstrated its full-life capability after completing 5,200 engine cycles to replicated seven years and 1,200 sorties.
The company says the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) engine for the Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter was put through its paces at the US Air Force’s Arnold Engine Development Center in Tennessee.
P&W F135 propulsion system vice president Mark Buongiorno expects the F135 will meets its mean times between failure and engine removal targets. He says the engine “meets or exceeds” its specifications and the accelerated mission testing shows a positive “level of robustness”, despite recent reports that call into question the F135’s performance.
He believes the engine will meets all its performance specifications by the conclusion of development. As an example, the Rolls-Royce lift system for the STOVL engine has been proven to ingest 22in per hour without losing thrust. Buongiorno also pointed to the recent carrier trial of six F-35Bs, which involved 100 vertical takeoffs.
In another milestone for the company, the first Italian-built F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, named AL-1, has been fired up at the Finmeccanica-Alenia Aermacchi-run final assembly and check-out facility in Cameri with an engine start and ground run.
The event coincided with Italy’s Independence Day celebration on June 2 and the first flight is expected to follow shortly.
Italy plans to buy 60 F-35As and 30 F-35Bs to for its air force and navy.