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Pratt & Whitney F135 completes first engine runs at joint reserve base in support of JSF flight tests

June 21, 2006 (by Jeff Hollenbeck) - The first flight test F135 engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has completed successful runs at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base facility in Fort Worth, Texas.

A Pratt & Whitney F135 flight test engine in full afterburner running at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas. At 40,000 pounds of thrust, the F135 is the most powerful fighter engine ever built. [Pratt & Whitney photo]

The runs took place at an indoor engine test facility that was specially modified to handle the 40,000 pounds of thrust produced by the F135, the most powerful fighter engine ever built.

"The validation of this facility's ability to support F135 engine tests demonstrates the successful partnership of the U.S. military, Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney in support of the Joint Strike Fighter program," said Bill Gostic, vice president of F135 engine programs for Pratt & Whitney. "Having a ground test facility capable of supporting F135 engine tests on the same site that the aircraft is assembled will enhance our ability to support JSF flight tests for years to come."

The Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base (JRB) at Carswell is located adjacent to Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth, Texas, manufacturing facility where the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is being assembled and validated. The JRB's aircraft engine ground test facility - called the "Hush House" - was built in 2001 to support F-18 engine tests. Pratt & Whitney worked with the JRB during the past year to modify the facility's test equipment and sound damping structures to support the high thrust produced by the F135 engine. To validate the facility's ability to host F135 engine tests, the first flight test engine was run to maximum thrust and full afterburner.

Currently, F135 engines are tested at Pratt & Whitney facilities in Middletown, Conn., and West Palm Beach, Fla., and the Arnold Engineering and Development Center in Tennessee.

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 one million flight hours before the F-35’s introduction into operational service in 2012. Rated at more than 40,000 pounds of thrust, the F135 is the most powerful fighter engine ever built.

F135 engines have accumulated more than 5,400 hours of ground testing as part of the Pratt & Whitney System Development and Demonstration program. This is in addition to the more than 3,600 hours F135 engines accumulated as the exclusive power for all JSF concept demonstration ground and flight tests.

In December 2005, Pratt & Whitney delivered the first flight test F135 engine to Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas. The engine has been installed and is ready to power the F-35's first flight this fall.

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 UTC’s Hamilton Sundstrand unit, provider of the F135’s control system, external accessories and gearbox.