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Pratt & Whitney awarded first production contract for F-35 engines

April 30, 2006 (by Jeff Hollenbeck) - Pratt & Whitney has been awarded the first production contract for F135 engines to power the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. The contract, valued at $23 million, is for long lead-time hardware for six engines supporting the first five production F-35 aircraft covering Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP).

Pratt & Whitney F135 engine [USAF photo]

This contract is the first portion of a full LRIP contract valued at up to $120 million through January 2010.

"The entire F135 team is excited as we officially begin the transition from a development engine program to a production engine program entering a new phase in Pratt & Whitney's history," said Bill Gostic, Vice President of F135 Engine Programs for Pratt & Whitney.

Pratt & Whitney's F135 engine program recently achieved more than 5,000 hours of System Development and Demonstration (SDD) ground testing and is on schedule to support the first flight of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) this fall. The 5,000 SDD hours are in addition to the more than 3,600 hours accumulated during the concept demonstration phase of the F-35 program, reflecting the F135's maturity and reliability.

There are currently nine ground test engines in the F135 SDD program. The first flight test F135 engine was delivered to Lockheed Martin ahead of schedule in December 2005. The engine was installed in the first Conventional Take Off and Landing F-35 aircraft in February.

The technologically advanced F135 is an evolution of the highly successful F119 engine for the F-22 Raptor. Together the F135 and F119 will have logged approximately 1 million flight hours before the F-35's introduction into operational service in 2012. The F135 is the most powerful fighter engine ever built.

"With all the extensive SDD ground testing, F119 operational experience and incorporation of new and advanced technologies, Pratt & Whitney expects the F135 engine will enter service and achieve reliability records at least 10 times better than the legendary F100 engine that powers the F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-15 Eagle today," Gostic said.

The F135 propulsion system team consists of Pratt & Whitney, the prime contractor with responsibility for the main engine and system integration; Rolls-Royce of the United Kingdom, providing lift components for the STOVL F-35B; and Hamilton Sundstrand, provider of the F135's control system, external accessories and gearbox. More than 40 companies, representing all eight JSF partner nations, are fully engaged in the F135 program providing best value manufacturing and technology.