Pratt & Whitney to modernize the F135 engine of the F-35

Aviation company Pratt & Whitney has received additional funding of $66 million, bringing the total amount for the F135 engine modernization to $180 million , a project that accelerates its design phase and is projected to be completed by 2028.

Capital Injection Benefits Progress of Project F135

This additional addition to the F135 engine modernization project strengthens the design, program management, risk reduction, acquisition and integration of the weapons system. The initiative to improve the F135 engine comes from the US Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, who established it in 2023.

Rosa DeLauro, a political representative, highlighted the significance of this modernized engine for an upgraded F-35, pledging continued support and funding for the program to meet national defense priorities and strengthen the defense industrial base.

The F135 ECU designed for all three F-35 variants is projected to provide a fast, economical, and low-risk solution for F-35 operators globally, promising up to $40 billion in cost savings. Lifecycle. Lockheed Martin supported this position in June 2023.

F135: A Turbofan Engine for the F-35 Lightning II Fighter

The F135 engine is a product of the collaboration between Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce, designed specifically for the F-35 Lightning II fighter. It is considered one of the most advanced fighter engines in the world, capable of generating up to 43,000 pounds of thrust, allowing the F-35 to reach a top speed of Mach 1.6 and a maximum altitude of 50,000 feet.

Pratt & Whitney to modernize the F135 engine of the F-35

It is a twin-coil engine with two sets of rotating blades that compress air and combine it with fuel to generate thrust. In addition, it integrates advanced technologies, such as a three-stage fan, a low-pressure compressor and a high-pressure turbine.

This engine has gone through extensive testing and development, accumulating more than 500,000 test hours and 20,000 flight hours through 2021. Its modular design makes it easy to maintain and upgrade as technology progresses.

The Lockheed Martin Challenge: A New Engine

Contrary to the Pentagon’s plan to upgrade existing Pratt & Whitney engines, Lockheed Martin expressed interest in a new engine for the F-35 fighter. Greg Ulmer, Lockheed’s executive vice president of aeronautics, unveiled the company’s support for the Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP) for the F-35 at the Paris Air Show.

Ulmer championed a new engine and criticized current strategies for their lack of vision for the future. He highlighted the advantages of an AETP engine, including its power and cooling capabilities, which could propel the F-35 beyond planned upgrades.

Despite this endorsement of the AETP, Pratt & Whitney opposed the idea, claiming it undermined Pentagon support for the engine core upgrade. Jill Albertelli, Pratt & Whitney’s head of military engines, spoke out against the use of an untested adaptive engine for a single-engine fighter, advocating instead an upgrade to Pratt’s F135 engine.

F135 Engine Upgrade for Sixth-Generation Aircraft

Pratt & Whitney to modernize the F135 engine of the F-35

Although the F-35, a Lockheed project, will remain in operation for another 50 years, an engine upgrade is in order. Both General Electric Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney are competing to develop the AETP engines. GE plans to incorporate its adaptive engine into the F-35, while Pratt sees the adaptive engine as more suitable for a sixth-generation aircraft.

The Pentagon decided to upgrade the existing F135 engine for its cost-effectiveness. However, the House Armed Services Committee proposed additional funding for a new engine without dropping funding for the engine upgrade. Greg Ulmer has reaffirmed his stance on the future F-35 powertrain, a notable change from his previous stance in an interview with Defense News in 2022.

What is the F135 engine, and what features does it have?

The F135 engine is a turbofan engine designed by Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce, specifically for the F-35 Lightning II fighter. This engine is considered one of the most advanced in the world, being able to generate up to 43,000 pounds of thrust, allowing the F-35 to reach speeds of up to Mach 1.6 and an altitude of 50,000 feet. It integrates advanced technologies and has accumulated more than 500,000 test hours and 20,000 flight hours by 2021.

How much funding did Pratt & Whitney receive for the F135 engine retrofit?

Pratt & Whitney has received additional funding of $66 million, bringing the total amount for the F135 engine retrofit to $180 million. This project aims to speed up the design phase and is expected to be completed in 2028.

What benefits are expected from the modernization of the F135 engine?

The F135 engine retrofit is designed to offer a fast, low-risk and cost-effective solution for F-35 operators globally, potentially saving up to $40 billion in life-cycle costs.

What is Lockheed Martin’s position on the F135 engine modernization?

Lockheed Martin has expressed interest in a new engine for the F-35 rather than upgrading existing Pratt & Whitney engines. The company supports the Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP) for the F-35, championing its power and cooling capabilities.

How is the AETP adaptive engine planned to be used in the future of aviation?

The AETP adaptive engine is being developed by General Electric Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney. GE plans to incorporate its adaptive engine into the F-35, while Pratt & Whitney sees the adaptive engine as more suitable for a sixth-generation aircraft. However, the Pentagon has decided to upgrade the existing F135 engine for its cost-effectiveness.