F136 Powerplant Can Power All Three F-35 Variants
The GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team recently conducted 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 US Air Force, the US 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. This includes a series of
key engine tests," 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
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, IN and Bristol,
"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
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, OH, as well as at the Arnold Engineering Center at
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 US and U.K. militaries. Potential F-35
production for the US 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.
Rolls Royce states the F136 will be fully and physically
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 US Marine Corps and UK Royal Navy,
Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL) for the US Air Force, and
the Carrier Variant (CV) for the US 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 US services and international partners
to cooperate in joint coalition operations.