Britain has invested 10%, or $200m, in the JSF development programme. British Aerospace is a full partner in the Lockheed Martin X-35 team and Rolls-Royce is deeply involved in STOVL engine designs for the X-32 and X-35.
Harry Blott, Lockheed Martin’s vice-president and X-35 deputy programme director, says that as the begetter of the Harrier, BAe is the ‘father of STOVL’. It is this skill that his company was keen to tap for its X-35: BAe will be responsible for all aspects of the STOVL work on the X-35, he revealed.
However, BAe could also have some involvement in the more conventional versions of the JSF. Significantly, the Ministry of Defence Procurement Executive has been very careful in its aircraft carrier studies to include examinations of CTOL aircraft.
Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce is involved in the X-35 through its subsidiary Allison providing the shaft-driven remote lift fan, while Rolls-Royce itself will provide the swivel nozzle, the nozzle duct and will also manufacture the lift fan’s tubomachinery components.
On the rival X-32, Rolls-Royce is providing the lift module, spool duct and other STOVL-specific components.
Allison and Rolls-Royce are also involved in an alternative JSF engine proposal, which was demanded by the US government to give Washington more options in controlling the project’s costs. The British businesses are teamed with General Electric to offer a variant of its F120 engine.
Rolls-Royce will design and develop the F120’s low-pressure fan, which will use a development of hollow titanium fan technology proven in Rolls-Royce’s commercial airliner turbofans.
Britain is therefore well placed whoever wins, though BAe might not negotiate such a big part in the X-32 programme if Boeing triumphs. But BAe certainly feels it chose the right partner.