The GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team (FET) has been awarded a contract valued at $2.4 billion to develop its F136 engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.
The contract, issued by the U.S. government, will be applied towards the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the F136 engine program. This SDD phase will run through September 2013. The F136 Initial Service Release is planned in 2012 at which time the first F136 production engines will begin deliveries.
The F-35 is built from around 40 percent composites by weight – more than any other fighter jet in existence – according to the company, with almost all of the materials used on the exterior produced from composite materials.
“”This SDD contract allows the team to transition the development engine into a long-term production program,” said Bob Griswold, of GE Transportation and president of the Fighter Engine Team. “We have worked hard to make the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team one entity with a common focus on the F136 engine’s success. We are confident the FET is in position for success as we enter into SDD.””
The F-35 is a next-generation, multi-role stealth aircraft designed to replace the AV-8B Harrier, A-10, F-16, F/A-18 Hornet and the United Kingdom’s Harrier GR.7 and Sea Harrier, all of which are currently powered by a GE or Rolls-Royce engine. Potential F-35 production for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marines and international customers, including the UK Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, may reach as many as 5000 to 6000 aircraft over the next 30 years.
In addition to full-scale development work, the F136 SDD phase includes the production and qualification of 14 engines, seven of which are for ground-test, and six plus one spare for flight-tests. The first F136 engine is expected to test in mid-2008, but earlier risk-reduction tests are due to begin in 2006 using one of the Fighter Engine Team’s original pre-SDD development engines.
The F136 engine is expected to flight test on the F-35 in 2010, with production engines available in 2012. This occurs during the fourth lot of F-35 aircraft production, which is very early in the overall F-35 production program.
Tom Hartmann, of Rolls-Royce and Senior Vice President for the Fighter Engine Team said, “”We completed pre-SDD testing on schedule and under budget which is a major achievement, but not unusual for two companies with many decades of international collaborative experience.””
With the infusion of best practices and improved technology, the F136 is expected to exceed requirements for maintainability, affordability, and reliability for all JSF variants, while enhancing the ability of the U.S. services and international partners to cooperate in joint coalition operations.
GE Transportation – Aircraft Engines, with responsibility for 60 percent of the F136 program, is developing the core compressor and coupled high-pressure/low-pressure turbine system components, controls and accessories, and the augmentor. Rolls-Royce, with 40 percent of the F136 program, is responsible for the front fan, combustor, stages 2 and 3 of the low-pressure turbine, and gearboxes. International participant countries are also contributing to the F136 through involvement in engine development and component manufacturing.
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