Pratt & Whitney is on track to complete the F135 Engine Core Upgrade preliminary design review (PDR) and move into the detailed design phase in early 2024. To meet this timeline, the company has more than doubled the F135 ECU team from 200 to 500 people.
The PDR will focus on demonstrating that the design meets customer requirements with acceptable risk and that the design maturity is sufficient to enter the detailed design phase.
“This upgrade will provide the F135 what it needs to support the additional capabilities that will soon be introduced to the F-35 through the jet’s Block 4 upgrade,”Jill Albertelli, president of Pratt & Whitney’s Military Engines business.
Pratt & Whitney’s F135 ECU preliminary design activities are funded by a $115 million contract awarded in December 2022 and additional funding provided in the FY23 Defense Appropriations bill. In March 2023, the Department of Defense chose to upgrade the F135 versus replace it with an entirely new engine. The decision was announced as part of President Biden’s 2024 budget proposal.
“The Department of Defense is laser-focused on delivering National Defense Strategy priorities, while carefully managing costs, the engine has delivered more than twice the amount of bleed flow required in the original specifications for years. An upgrade will give the engine the capabilities it needs to meet and exceed the F-35’s growing requirements for power and thermal management while improving durability and restoring life to the engine.”Jen Latka, Pratt & Whitney’s vice president for the F135 program.
The F135 ECU is the fastest, most cost-efficient, and lowest-risk path to beyond Block 4 capability for all global F-35 operators. It is optimized for all three F-35 variants and will yield $40 billion in lifecycle cost savings by avoiding disruptive and costly air vehicle changes and leveraging the current global sustainment infrastructure.