Geoff Thomas/DUBAI

Talk to Pratt & Whitney's Rick Moran about his baby, the F119-PW-100 turbofan engine, and you'll quickly want to buy one of your own.

Moran is one of this world's true enthusiasts and his eloquence on the 35,000lb vectored-thrust engine - two of which power the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor advanced tactical fighter which first flew in September 1997 - leaves the casual listener in no doubt about the fact that THIS is a very special piece of kit.

"We made the engine lighter, easier to maintain and reliable. At every stage we placed these criteria over and above cost... although by simplifying the engine and its ancillaries, the cost came down anyway.

"Maintenance on the engine is simplicity itself. Six common tool sizes are all that are required to remove the line replacement units (LRUs) and all of them can be replaced in a weighted average time of 20 minutes each."

All the externally-mounted components can be removed without taking anything else off... and then replaced using self-locking 'wireless' fittings. This is faster... and there's less risk of engineers cutting themselves or their protective clothing on lock wires, especially when wearing full chemical suits.

Other innovations include the use of common brackets wherever possible, while colour-coded cabling and flexible hoses also help to speed the process.

All the ancillaries have been mounted on the lower half of the engine for accessibility and weight has been saved through some innovative thinking. This includes incorporating the gearbox into the oil tank; and using the fuel in three entirely separate way: as a cooling medium, to burn in the engine, and as 'hydraulic' fluid in the various actuators.

This is the first time that the 'mock-up' of the F119-PW-100 has been seen in the Middle East and although it is obviously a 'wooden engine', all the external ancillary parts are genuine - except the still-secret two-dimensional thrust vectoring nozzle which gives the aircraft its incredible agility.

Sadly, the F-22 Raptor itself isn't in Dubai, although there's still the possibility that it could appear at Farnborough 2000 next July - always depending on how the flight test programme is progressing of course.

A similar engine will be used on the Boeing-built version of the JSF STOVL aircraft.

Source: Flight Daily News