EVENDALE, OHIO: The GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team held a successful Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for the F136 engine being developed for the F-35 Lightning II aircraft.
The review, a three-month process led by the F-35 Program Office and Lockheed Martin, is a key milestone in the F136's System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase. The SDD program was launched in August 2005 with a $2.4 billion contract to the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team.
The PDR assesses the progress to the F136 design and its unique hardware, as well as the strategy to move the engine into a production phase later this decade. Other officials involved in the review included technology specialists from Wright Patterson Air Force Base, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, and defense officials representing the F-35 program's international participants.
“Completing this review process gives us the green light to proceed with the activities leading to the next major milestone, the Critical Design Review in late 2007,” said Jean Lydon-Rodgers, president of the Fighter Engine Team. “The comments from the review team were very positive. The F136 program is moving forward on-budget and on-schedule. Through engineering design optimizations and weight reduction projects leading up to the PDR, the Fighter Engine Team has been able to reduce the total engine weight by over 550 pounds.”
About 800 engineers and technicians are engaged in the F136 program at GE Aviation's Cincinnati, Ohio, headquarters, and at Rolls-Royce facilities in Indianapolis, Indiana; and Bristol, England.
“Our focus on success for the F136 engine has been unwavering and that's a credit to every member of the Fighter Engine Team,” said Tom Hartmann, vice president of the Fighter Engine Team. “Our efficiency in shedding weight is a prime example of what can be accomplished when you have two engines competing to provide a customer with the best and most efficient propulsion system. We'll keep delivering improvements like this throughout the life of the program.”
The first full F136 development engine in the SDD program is expected to test in mid-2008. Between now and then, new engine components will be validated by running them in the original F136 prototypes built during the pre-SDD phase.
In 2007, tests will be run on the engine's fan and low-pressure turbine system, software and controls systems, and the augmentor. These tests will be held at GE facilities in Cincinnati and Peebles, Ohio; and at the Arnold Engineering Center at Tullahoma, Tennessee.
The SDD phase is scheduled to run through 2013; the first production F136 engines are scheduled to be delivered in 2012 for the F-35 Lightning II aircraft. This occurs during the fourth lot of F-35 aircraft production, which is very early in the overall aircraft production program.
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 GE or Rolls-Royce making them the engine powers of choice for the U.S. and U.K. militaries. 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.
The F136 will be fully interchangeable for the F-35. The F136 was the first F-35 engine to offer a single engine configuration for all three versions of the aircraft: STOVL for the U.S. Marine Corps and U.K. Royal Navy, Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL) for the U.S. Air Force, and the Carrier Variant (CV) for the U.S. Navy.
With the infusion of best practices and improved technology, the F136 is expected to exceed requirements for maintainability, affordability, and reliability for all F-35 variants, while enhancing the ability of the U.S. services and international partners to cooperate in joint coalition operations.
Editor's notes GE – Aviation, 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.