General Electric Rolls-Royce F136 completes STOVL demonstration as Pratt & Whitney F135 clears design review

The competing engines for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter have passed critical milestones, with the General Electric Rolls-Royce F136 completing its first full short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) demonstration and Pratt & Whitney's F135 passing its critical design review.

The GE-RR Fighter Engine Team delivered a formal proposal for the F136 system development and demonstration (SDD) phase to the JSF Joint Programme Office on 2 May and is optimistic of being under contract from August.

Worth around $2.4 billion from 2005-13, the SDD contract covers the development and qualification of 14 engines, seven of which are for flight-test aircraft, says F136 programme manager Jean Lydon-Rodgers. "First engine to test will be around mid-2008, but we will also go into test in the second quarter of 2007 to address some risk-reduction items on the augmentor using one of the original test engines," she adds.

Flight tests are anticipated in 2009, with production engines available for Lot 4 low-rate initial production aircraft in 2012. Fighter Engine Team president Bob Griswold says the next phase of F136 development will involve over 12,000h of engine tests. The SDD engine will feature "tweaks" to suit the higher power requirement of the production standard F-35, he says. "We've been following that closely and matching the engine characteristics. You don't like being second, but if there's an advantage, hopefully we've done a better job of matching performance with the aircraft." Improvements include upping the inlet fan flow and slightly adjusting the size of the core, he adds.

P&W's SDD effort is also well advanced, with preparations under way to start assembly of the first F135 flight-test engine in August. This will be delivered to Lockheed in December ahead of a first flight in August 2006.

P&W says seven F135 ground-test engines have been delivered, with five more to be added to the programme. Over 2,800h of tests have been accumulated in the SDD phase, building on 3,500h amassed pre-SDD.


Source: Flight International