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Pratt & Whitney Canada to provide rotor for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter engines

October 13, 2004 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Pratt & Whitney Canada has won a major contract to build a component for the engine under development by its U.S. parent company to power the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The initial contract is worth $100 million US, while the Canadian subsidiary is bidding for more business on the program, Louis Chenevert, president of Pratt & Whitney, said Tuesday.

"There are other possibilities for other pieces," Chenevert said at a news conference at Pratt & Whitney Canada's headquarters and main manufacturing facility, in this city adjacent to Montreal.

It marks the largest contract so far won by a Canadian firm for the Joint Strike Fighter program, a new-generation fighter aircraft that will be used by the U.S., Britain and six other countries.

Pratt & Whitney Canada will manufacture a bladed compressor rotor for the Joint Strike Fighter's F135 engine. The component is made of a titanium alloy and turns at 12,000 revolutions per minute.

Michael Slack, project manager for the Department of National Defence, said companies across Canada have so far nabbed 129 Joint Strike Fighter contracts worth $1.5 billion (U.S.).

Slack said total Canadian economic fallout from the fighter program over its lifetime of about 30 years is estimated to be between $8 billion and $10 billion (U.S.).

National partners have contributed to the $40.5 billion (U.S.) in development costs for the aircraft, which is scheduled to make its first flights in 2006.

Britain, committed to buying many the aircraft for its armed forces, has invested $2 billion (U.S.), while the Canadian government contributed a modest $150 million (U.S.), called a level three stage of commitment.

But Rear Admiral Steven Enewold, program executive officer, U.S. Navy, for the Joint Strike Fighter program, said the Canadian government commitment has helped Canadian firms win orders for a program.

"Clearly we have a preference for companies in our partner countries," Enewold said.

The other partner nations are Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Denmark, Norway and Australia.

Current plans are to produce some 5,000 jets from 2007 to 2028.

Canada has not yet decided whether to purchase the fighter as a replacement for its CF-18s, which are expected to be ready to retire by 2018.

Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp. of Hartford, Conn., is one of two companies that will provide engines for the Joint Strike Fighter. Chenevert said his company is currently three years ahead of its competitor, General Electric, in development.

Pratt & Whitney got its 10-year, $4.8-billion US contract to develop the engine in 2001.