Rolls-Royce awarded F-35B contract

Rolls-Royce has secured a $171m (£101.8m) contract with Pratt & Whitney to supply its LiftSystem for nine Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

This contract is the second production order for the group as part of its involvement in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme.

The previous contract, worth $131m, was signed in December 2008.

Simon Henley, director for new product introduction at Rolls-Royce Defence Aerospace, said: ‘This new contract, together with the imminent first flight of the F-35 in STOVL mode, shows the Rolls-Royce LiftSystem programme is now generating real momentum and that Rolls-Royce technology is helping to bring a step change in air-combat technology.

‘As the LiftSystem programme continues to gain momentum on both sides of the Atlantic, we are looking forward to supporting the flight trials, with the LiftSystem engaged in the F-35B at the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River.’

The group’s LiftSystem is made up of a 50in (1270mm) two-stage counter-rotating fan capable of generating more than 20,000lb (9,072kg) of thrust, a swivelling jet pipe and roll posts mounted in the wings of the aircraft, each of which provides a further 1,950lb thrust from the main engine.

Rolls-Royce said it would provide these components through the propulsion-system prime contractor Pratt & Whitney.

The contract also includes spare hardware, production investment and sustainment planning.

Engineers in Bristol and Indianapolis, US are involved in the design and assembly of the LiftSystem, with component manufacture taking place at the Hucknall and Bristol sites in the UK.

Orders for the LiftSystem are expected to be more than 600, with customers including the US Marine Corps, the UK armed forces and the Italian navy.