Engine shortage is newest problem to hit F-35 enterprise

All about the Pratt & Whitney F135 and the (cancelled) General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136
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spazsinbad

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Unread post13 Feb 2021, 05:12

An engine shortage is the newest problem to hit the F-35 enterprise [story best read at source]
12 Feb 2021 Valerie Insinna

"WASHINGTON — The F-35 joint strike fighter program is grappling with a shortage of the jet’s Pratt & Whitney F135 engine, and it could be months before the situation starts to improve, a defense official said Friday.

The problem, according to the F-35 joint program office, is twofold. First, the F135 Heavy Maintenance Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., has not been able to process engines through scheduled depot maintenance as quickly as projected.

Second, maintainers are discovering “premature distress of rotor blade coatings” in a “small number” of engine power modules, creating more repair work and contributing to the backlog.

A defense official who spoke to Defense News on background called the issues a “serious readiness problem.” By 2022, roughly 5 to 6 percent of the F-35 fleet could be without engines due to scheduled depot maintenance as well as unscheduled engine removals caused by F135s in need of repair.... [more detail]

...According to the F-35 program office, the Defense Department first noticed signs of the engine shortage issue in early 2020. At the end of the summer, the department received an update that made clear that the F135 depot would not be able to process 60 engine power modules a year, as was previously expected, the defense official said.

Myriad factors contributed to the slowdown, including “an increase in the work scope that they were seeing within as they tore down the engine, the unavailability of tech data, some of the engineering disposition wait time, the lack of available support equipment and …depot workforce proficiency,” the official said.

This was coupled with a “higher preponderance” of degradation to the heat protective coating applied to the blades of the F135 power module.

In order to tackle the maintenance backlog, the Air Force is adding a second shift at the F135 Heavy Maintenance Center, which should be up and running by June, the official said.

The F-35 program office has already contracted with Pratt & Whitney for additional power module repair support, and its working with the contractor to obtain more training, support equipment and technical data.

“What we want to shoot for is it turning out power modules at about 122 days. We’re a little over 200 days today,” the official said.

Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, also introduced a hardware modification to engine blades in spring 2020 that is being incorporated in the production line and in engines going through sustainment, the company said in a statement....

Photo: "Members of the 380th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron Air Terminal Operations Center wheel an F-35A Lightning II engine out of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, August 26, 2020, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. (Tech. Sgt. Charles Taylor/U.S. Air Force)" https://www.armytimes.com/resizer/1nvFa ... uality(100)/cloudfront-us-east-1.images.arcpublishing.com/mco/KIODMG3OQNCORPLK2HKX4EPKJI.jpg


Source: https://www.defensenews.com/air/2021/02 ... nterprise/
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jessmo112

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Unread post13 Feb 2021, 05:29

If we only had a second company building an alternate engine. Hmmmm
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Unread post13 Feb 2021, 08:53

jessmo112 wrote:If we only had a second company building an alternate engine. Hmmmm


How would an alternate engine help with problems with the IPP? Or are they referring to the F135 when they say "Engine power module"?
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Unread post13 Feb 2021, 10:07

http://www.amdo.org/JSF_Program_and_33_FW_Updates.pdf {3.4Mb) Five Modules as seen in graphic from PDF below.
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Unread post15 Feb 2021, 17:07

Other articles.
https://www.defensedaily.com/defense-wa ... tegorized/
Defense Watch: F-35 Engines, HASC Vice Chairs, Ellen Lord
By Cal Biesecker |02/12/2021
F-35A Engines. The U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command (ACC) said that it is working with the F-35 Joint Program Office and Pratt & Whitney to resolve supply and maintenance issues with Pratt’s F135 engine for the F-35A, as such engines have had…


I would like to expect the engine for Block 4. 8)
https://www.defenseworld.net/news/28928 ... t__Testing
P&W to Make Engines for F-35 Block 4 Development, Testing
Our Bureau February 9, 2021
The U.S. Department of Defense announced a $49.2 million contract to Pratt and Whitney (P&W) to manufacture engines for F-35 Lightning II Block 4 fighter aircraft.

This contract provides for one conventional take-off and landing and two short take-off/vertical landing F135 engines to support F-35 Lightning II Block Four developmental testing program, a U.S. DoD release said.
The U.S. Marine Corps’ F-35Bs and the Navy’s catapult-launched F-35Cs will receive incremental Block 4 upgrades (Block 4.1, 4.2, and onwards) in the coming months. The Block 4 upgrades will include faster computers, more missiles, panoramic cockpit display, longer ranges, and AI-flown wingmen (such as the XQ-58A “Valkyrie.”

The main computers of Block 4 jets will reportedly be able to receive 25 times more instructions than current onboard computers. This will allow the aircraft to draw more data from friendly sources and provide increased electronic warfare capabilities.
Block 4 incremental software upgrades improves F-35’s APG-81 AESA radar, Sensor Fusion, and Distributed Aperture System (DAS).

The jet can presently carry four AIM-120 AMRAAM medium range air-to-air missiles while preserving its stealthy profile. The new “Sidekick” missile launch system included in Block 4 upgrade squeezes two more AMRAAM missiles into the existing belly-mounted missile bay. The jet will also eventually carry the under-development AIM-260 missile, hypersonic weapons, plus a new missile designed to chase down and destroy ground-based radars.
New wing-mounted drop tanks to be added is expected to increase the F-35’s range by 25%, giving it a combat range of about 1186km at the cost of greater radar visibility.

by the way...
This article states that the drop tanks will extend the range by 1,186 km, or 25% of the F-35's true original range. :shock: (!?)
25%=1,186km :?: (?) :?: (Is my interpretation correct? :roll: unconfident.)
At x4, in other words, at 100%, it's will be 4,744 km.
......F-35's Original Range is 4,744km !? :doh: REALLY !? For Real !? What does the hell this article say? :bang: Is the F-35's Original internal fuel Range that Long?
--------------
[Edit]
I may have mistakenly assumed it was 125%. :notworthy: (Sorry to bother you.)
I'm not good at math. :doh:
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Unread post16 Feb 2021, 01:12

spazsinbad wrote:
An engine shortage is the newest problem to hit the F-35 enterprise [story best read at source]
12 Feb 2021 Valerie Insinna

"WASHINGTON — The F-35 joint strike fighter program is grappling with a shortage of the jet’s Pratt & Whitney F135 engine, and it could be months before the situation starts to improve, a defense official said Friday.

The problem, according to the F-35 joint program office, is twofold. First, the F135 Heavy Maintenance Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., has not been able to process engines through scheduled depot maintenance as quickly as projected.

Second, maintainers are discovering “premature distress of rotor blade coatings” in a “small number” of engine power modules, creating more repair work and contributing to the backlog.

A defense official who spoke to Defense News on background called the issues a “serious readiness problem.” By 2022, roughly 5 to 6 percent of the F-35 fleet could be without engines due to scheduled depot maintenance as well as unscheduled engine removals caused by F135s in need of repair.... [more detail]

...According to the F-35 program office, the Defense Department first noticed signs of the engine shortage issue in early 2020. At the end of the summer, the department received an update that made clear that the F135 depot would not be able to process 60 engine power modules a year, as was previously expected, the defense official said.

Myriad factors contributed to the slowdown, including “an increase in the work scope that they were seeing within as they tore down the engine, the unavailability of tech data, some of the engineering disposition wait time, the lack of available support equipment and …depot workforce proficiency,” the official said.

This was coupled with a “higher preponderance” of degradation to the heat protective coating applied to the blades of the F135 power module.

In order to tackle the maintenance backlog, the Air Force is adding a second shift at the F135 Heavy Maintenance Center, which should be up and running by June, the official said.

The F-35 program office has already contracted with Pratt & Whitney for additional power module repair support, and its working with the contractor to obtain more training, support equipment and technical data.

“What we want to shoot for is it turning out power modules at about 122 days. We’re a little over 200 days today,” the official said.



Part of the issue is the decision by the JPO to maintain the F135 engine as a 2+ Level Maintenance concept. This divides the maintenance between Flightline on-wing base level maintenance and off-base Depot level maintenance, with the additional capability for the Flightline to remove and replace F135 modules off-wing. There is noon-base Intermediate level repair or test cell capability. This is a major savings in personnel and support equipment at base level, but demands high reliability and sufficient spare module availability.

If this was a F119 engine with 3 level maintenance, they could have pulled the engine to Intermediate, removed the Augmentor and Low Pressure Turbine, replaced the High Pressure Turbine blades, installed the LPT and Augmentor, performed a turbine run-in on test cell, and returned the engine to serviceable status in 2-3 weeks, assuming replacement parts were available.

With the current HPT blade issues, the Flightline has to pull the engine, remove the Power Module, and replace it with a spare Power Module from depot, if available. Depot has to tear down the module, replace the HPT blades, build the module up, install it into an engine for a test cell run-in, then remove the module to pack and ship to a base as a spare.

2 level maintenance can be a great concept when it works, but the pipeline between depot and the flightline is a lot longer than having an on-base Intermediate repair capability.
P&W FSR (retired) - TF30 / F100 /F119 /F135
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Unread post16 Feb 2021, 01:47

“...assuming replacement parts were available.”

The operative question, of course. My ‘sense’ reading the article was that they’ve ID’d the root cause, have formulated a fix, but are now time away from manufacturing in the numbers necessary to recover.

I noted in the article a reference to the engines ‘running hot.’ What it didn’t say was ‘why’? Was ‘hot’ the cause of coating problem or did the loss of coating (by some unnamed mechanism) create/contribute to the ‘hot’? :shrug:
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Unread post25 Feb 2021, 16:17

Brown's engines idea. :doh:
https://www.airforcemag.com/brown-launc ... gen-minus/
Brown Launching Major TacAir Study with CAPE, Considering ‘5th-Gen Minus’
Feb. 17, 2021 | By John A. Tirpak
The Air Force is launching a months-long study of tactical aviation requirements, seeking a force mix that addresses both near- and long-term requirements, which will be available in time to inform the fiscal 2023 budget request, Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said Feb. 17.
He wants the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation shop involved so the study will have credibility and buy-in from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
USAF needs a fifth-gen capability, comparable to the F-22 and F-35, and a “sixth-gen” capability such as the Next-Generation Air Dominance fighter, but it also needs “a mix for the lower-end fight,” Brown told reporters on Feb. 17.
Although he acknowledged that former Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper opened the possibility of buying more F-16s for this purpose, Brown waved away that idea. The F-16, he said, lacks open mission systems capability, and gets operational flight program updates—new software—too infrequently. The aircraft was designed in the 1970s, and he is more interested in a “clean sheet design,” which he referred to as a “fourth-and-a half/fifth-gen minus” aircraft. The TacAir study will decide just what is needed, and in what numbers.
The study will parallel Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III’s Global Posture Review, and the two assessments will “inform” each other.
“Right now, I wouldn’t say they’re aligned,” Brown said, noting this is another reason why he wants the CAPE involved. The TacAir study will require a lot of modeling and simulation, he said. The Global Posture Study will also lay out the “priorities of the department” and inform the direction of the TacAir assessment. To do it in “a vacuum … would be naïve,” he said.
Asked specifically about buying new F-16s, Brown said, “Actually, I want to build something new and different that’s not the F-16; that has some of those capabilities, but gets there faster, using our digital approach.”

He assumes that, “Not everybody will agree” with the study’s findings, but said, “We … want a point of departure, a point of dialog.” There will be risk associated with whatever optimum force mix emerges. “My job then is to articulate what that risk might be,” he added.
The Air Force’s fighter fleet averages 28 years old, and “that’s not going to compete well with adversaries,” Brown noted. “That’s why this force mix study is so important: to bring down the average age, to have something relevant not just today, but well into the future.”
Brown acknowledged that the Air Force is unlikely to be able to afford 386 combat wings, but said it might be possible to obtain the combat capability of that capability without as many actual aircraft.
“I want to … get as close as I can to a 386 capability with the force size I have and [the] dollars available,” he said, but there has to be solid analysis for the resulting force mix. He’s told the Air Staff and major commands, “I have a degree in engineering; it’s all about numbers and facts … That’s what I expect from the Air Staff, don’t give me emotion, bring me the facts.”
Brown said he has no doubt the major commands “understand I’m the Chief,” and said he is making “enterprise-level decisions” about the force structure. Those decisions are “not going to be popular,” he said. But, “If I don’t do that, we don’t accelerate change. I’m not sorry about that. There will be some folks who don’t like me, or don’t like what I decide, but I want to move forward with what I think is best for the Air Force.”
Combatant commanders have a different perspective, he noted, and are focused on a horizon of two or three years. Brown said he’s worried about that, too, but he also has to think about the “next 15-20 years. This is why I say we have to balance risk over time. I should not own all the risk … [it] has to be shared [with] the combatant commands and the services.” He said he’s thinking about the COCOMs that are the fifth successors to those now in the job, and he wants to “set them up for success.”
Not every mission will have everything it needs, Brown said. “That means tough choices.” The Air Force has to “look across portfolios.”

Brown acknowledged the F-35 is having engine wear issues, and said this will play in the TacAir review. The Air Force has the largest and “most mature” F-35 fleet, and is seeing F135 engines “failing a little faster in certain areas,” due to their “high use rate” and heavy deployment pace, given their relative newness in the fleet, he said.
Options are being looked at in maintenance and depot to mitigate the problem, Brown said, noting he has three- and four-star generals studying the issue.
But one big solution could simply be to use the F-35 less, Brown reported.


“I want to moderate how much we’re using those aircraft,” he said. “You don’t drive your Ferrari to work every day, you only drive it on Sundays. This is our ‘high end’ [fighter], we want to make sure we don’t use it all for the low-end fight … We don’t want to burn up capability now and wish we had it later.”
There’s “going to be some tension associated” with that approach, and “I fully expect that,” he said.
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Unread post25 Feb 2021, 16:20

On the other hand , Hill AFB 388th FW says the F-35's engine shortage has been resolved and unaffected. :shock: wow
https://www.standard.net/news/hill-afb- ... 4ffcf.html
Hill AFB F-35 prove combat-ready, despite engine shortage
By MITCH SHAW Standard-Examiner Feb 21, 2021
HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Despite an ongoing F-35 engine shortage, the fighter wing at Hill Air Force Base that flies the jet is having no issues staying battle-ready.

Micah Garbarino, spokesperson with Hill’s 388th Fighter Wing, said a group of airmen from the wing recently returned from a nearly three week-long combat exercise in Nevada’s southern desert. Garbarino said about 200 airmen from the 388th — and its reserve counterpart, 419th Fighter Wing — took 12 F-35s to Nellis Air Force Base during the latter days of January and returned to Hill late last week.
The combat exercise, which Garbarino described as “large-scale” and “highly complex,” is know as “Red Flag.” The training involves the Department of Defense and a handful of U.S. allies and takes place on the Nevada Test and Training Range. It includes attack, fighter and bomber aircraft that perform missions like air attacks on enemy targets, combat search and rescue, close air support and others.

At its core, the exercise is meant to provide a realistic simulation of an F-35 battle against near-equal enemies during a large-scale conflict. Instituted shortly after the Vietnam War, Red Flag was created to give young pilots at least 10 combat-realistic training missions.
Garbarino said the exercise has changed in recent years and in 2021, it featured several different DoD aircraft aside from Hill’s F-35s, including B-2 Spirits, B-1B Lancers, F-22 Raptors, F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-15E Eagles, EA-18G Growlers, E-3 Sentries and E-8 Joint Stars.

Those planes made up a friendly “Blue Force,” Garbarino said, that took on “aggressors” provided by Nellis which made up an enemy “Red Force.”
“When you factor in the complexity of the missions, and the sheer number of aircraft, there aren’t many training opportunities for an entire squadron that can match Red Flag,” Col. Steven Behmer, 388th FW commander, said in a statement. “It’s a great time to further develop tactics across platforms, as well as gain experience within the unit.”

Garbarino said in 2017, Hill pilots were the first to take the F-35 to a Red Flag exercise. In the four years since then, he said training scenarios have shifted from counterinsurgency operations, to “more intense missions against scores of high-end or ‘near peer’ aircraft, surface threats, electronic warfare, space and cyber threats.”
Lt. Col. Aaron Cavazos, Hill’s 34th Fighter Squadron commander, said during the exercise there were 50 to 60 friendly aircraft fighting against a nearly equal number of similarly armed “enemies.”

During the training, Cavazos’ squadron tested the F-35’s cutting-edge sensors and stealth capabilities to perform offensive battle tactics and escort duties.
“It’s impossible to replicate at home station,” Cavazos said of the training.

The simulated enemy forces at Red Flag 2021 were better equipped and more formidable than in past years, which meant some failure was inevitable. While Cavazos said failure is never the goal, it does offer a chance to discover unexpected problems and unrealistic expectations in mission planning and execution.
“This training is absolutely crucial for the squadron,” he said. “We’re facing an enemy where it’s likely that we’ll lose if we don’t go into every mission with a solid, joint game plan.”

Aside from the pilots, Garbarino said maintainers from Hill’s 34th Fighter Generation Squadron and 466th Aircraft Maintenance Unit also participated in the exercise. He said during the training, the group didn’t lose a single F-35 combat sortie to a maintenance issue.
The training took place as the DoD revealed a program-wide F-35 engine shortage.

Last week Hill announced that its F-35 aerial demonstration team had been forced to revise its 2021 show schedule due to the shortage. Engines on Air Force model F-35s have been reaching limits of their design, with overheating causing premature cracks and have been removed from service earlier than anticipated.
In a statement, the 388th Fighter Wing told the Standard-Examiner that the shortage issue is being addressed and thus far, has not impacted any of the wing’s operational combat requirements.

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