March 24, 2008 (by GE Aviation) - The GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team has successfully completed a high-altitude afterburner testing program at the US Air Force Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tennessee.
The General Electric - Rolls-Royce F136 engine [USAF photo]
The F136 engine is a 40,000+ lb. thrust, combat engine that will be available to power all variants of the F-35 for the US military and eight partner nations.
All the test objectives were reached using an engine configured with Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL
) and Short Takeoff Vertical Landing (STOVL
) common exhaust systems. The engine configuration included a production-size fan and functional augmentor allowing several run periods to full afterburner operation.
A second F136 engine continues testing at the GE
test facility in Peebles, Ohio, including both CTOL and STOVL controls technology test missions. Testing began at Peebles and all of the CTOL test objectives were successfully accomplished in mid-March. STOVL testing will continue over the upcoming weeks at the new GE test facility.
Both the common hardware testing at Arnold Engineering Development Center and the ongoing Peebles tests mark important milestones for the F136 program. The two engines were originally produced during the pre-System Development and Demonstration (SDD
) contract. Since then, the powerplants have been updated with new fan, augmentor and controls technology designed during the SDD process.
The pre-SDD engines have totaled more than 600 hours of test time, contributing significantly to risk reduction in the program. The first full SDD engine is scheduled to begin testing by early 2009, with first flight in the F-35 to follow in 2010.
The Fighter Engine Team recently completed a successful Critical Design Review, validating the unique design of the engine. The F136 program remains on schedule and within the budget and is fully funded by the US Government for FY 2008. More than 50 percent of the System Development and Demonstration funding for the engine has already been appropriated and the US Government has invested more than $2 Billion in the program.
"The Fighter Engine Team continues to deliver exceptional performance and grow confidence in the F136 engine through a detailed and extensive testing regimen. Based our successful test results and the recent completion of our Critical Design Review, we're on track to begin testing the F136 production-configuration in just a few months," said Jean Lydon-Rodgers, President of the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team.
"The F136 employs the most advanced, proven technologies, and the design - which is optimized for the F-35 Lightning II
- will provide affordable growth and lower maintenance costs. The F136 will benefit the F-35 program with affordable technology and drive down costs," said Mark Rhodes, Senior Vice President of the Fighter Engine Team.
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.
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.