Engine meets milestone

The GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team has held a successful Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for the F136 engine being developed for the F-35 Lightning II aircraft.



According to Rolls-Royce, the review, a three-month process led by the F-35 Program Office and Lockheed Martin, is a key milestone in the F136’s System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase. The SDD program was launched in August 2005 with a $2.4bn contract to the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team.



The PDR assesses the progress to the F136 design and its hardware, as well as the strategy to move the engine into a production phase later this decade. Other officials involved in the review included technology specialists from Wright Patterson Air Force Base, the US Air Force, the US Navy, and defence officials representing the F-35 program’s international participants.



‘Completing this review process gives us the green light to proceed with the activities leading to the next major milestone, the Critical Design Review, in late 2007. This includes a series of key engine tests,’ said Jean Lydon-Rodgers, president of the Fighter Engine Team. ‘Through engineering design optimisations and weight reduction projects leading up to the PDR, the Fighter Engine Team has been able to reduce the total engine weight by over 550 pounds.’



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.



‘Our efficiency in shedding weight is a prime example of what can be accomplished when you have two engines competing to provide a customer with the best and most efficient propulsion system. We’ll keep delivering improvements like this throughout the life of the program,’ added Tom Hartmann, vice president of the Fighter Engine Team.



The first full F136 development engine in the SDD program is expected to test in mid-2008. In the interim, new engine components will be validated by running them in the original F136 prototypes built during the pre-SDD phase.



In 2007, tests will be run on the engine’s fan and low-pressure turbine system, software and controls systems, and the augmentor. These tests will be held at GE facilities in Cincinnati and Peebles, Ohio; and at the Arnold Engineering Center at Tullahoma, Tennessee.



The SDD phase is scheduled to run through to 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.



The F-35 is a next-generation, multi-role stealth aircraft designed to replace the AV-8B Harrier, A-10, F-16, F/A-18 Hornet and the United Kingdom’s Harrier GR.7 and Sea Harrier. Potential F-35 production for the US Air Force, Navy, Marines and international customers, including the UK Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, may reach as many as 5000 to 6000 aircraft over the next 30 years.