Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pratt & Whitney Statement on F135 Engine Development and Production Progress

EAST HARTFORD, Conn – July 30, 2009 – Pratt & Whitney, a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX) company, issued the following statement today on the progress of the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine program:

“The F135 engine being developed by Pratt & Whitney has experienced some cost growth and production issues consistent with new engine programs at this stage of development and transition to production. We are working closely with the F-35 Joint Program Office in an aggressive cost reduction effort to address these issues and ensure the engine achieves its learned-out cost targets on schedule. Pratt & Whitney is entirely focused on executing the plans that have been established to ensure a successful program.

There are absolutely no product quality issues with fielded F135 engines, and the engines that have been delivered for flight testing have performed without issue. Pratt & Whitney is working to mature production processes to increase yield rates, as is typical with any new engine program at this stage of development. Pratt & Whitney is performing at 70 to 80 percent yield for some components and will improve as the production process is learned out. Many components are being manufactured at much better yields, having benefited from learning on the F119 engine program.

Pratt & Whitney is on a projected learning curve and the company is confident that we will deliver the results of a learned-out manufacturing process that will ultimately bring reduced costs and improved yield to the program.

Recently the F-35 Joint Program Office sponsored several independent reviews of Pratt & Whitney’s plans to reduce cost and ramp up manufacturing capability. The reviews concluded that:

· Pratt & Whitney has an excellent process control and certification program in place for the F135 engine

· The Supplier Management program at Pratt & Whitney is the best program reviewed to date

· The Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) program – Pratt & Whitney’s Quality Operating System – provides six sigma zero defects and is embedded in the corporate culture

With these recent findings, we are confident that we are on the right path to continue to deliver a successful product for the F-35 program and realize the benefits of a learned-out manufacturing process in the near future.

The F135 engine program remains on track to support overall F-35 development and transition to production. Pratt & Whitney is scheduled to deliver the first seven production F135 engines later this year. The F135 conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) engine and short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) propulsion system continue to power the F-35 Lightning II flight test programs with 113 flights and more than 134 flight test hours.

The Pratt & Whitney F135 engine has surpassed 12,000 engine test hours as part of the system development and demonstration (SDD) phase of the development program. This achievement, in addition to the 3,600 test hours accumulated during the F-35 concept demonstration program, puts F135 engine test hours at more than 15,600.”

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Navy "Strongly Endorses" Single Engine for JSF

Graham Warwick writes in Aviation Week today that the Navy "has strongly endorsed a single engine for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, citing lack of space on its aircraft carriers to support an alternate powerplant."

“I’m in the one engine camp,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, speaking July 28 at the rollout of the first Pratt & Whitney F135-powered F-35C carrier variant here. “On a carrier, space matters.”

The full story is here.

F135 Reaches 12,000 Test Hours and 133 Successful Flights

Today's release that the F135 has hit over 12,000 test hours and 133 successful flights marks another major milestone for our engine.  We are nearing the completion of the testing phase, instilling even more confidence in an engine derived from the F-22 fighter engine with more than 100,000 flight hours and an unprecedented safety record.

The alternate engine team, recently called "embattled" by Aviation Week, which noted "indications of growing slippages in the alternate engine schedule," has reported fewer than 50 hours of testing.

The F135 is the only engine powering the F-35 flight test program, and the gap between the readiness of the F135 and the F136 continues to grow.  "The F136 team acknowledged at the recent Paris air show that the date for the first flight-test engine has slid to early 2011 from 2010..." according to the same story in Aviation Week.

As Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) said, when discussing the F135 during last week's Senate debate , "We've been at this for years now and it is a success."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

White House Issues Veto Threat Over Alternate Engine Funding in House Defense Appropriations Bill

The Obama Administration has issued a veto threat on the House Defense Appropriations bill that includes funding for the alternate engine.
Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) Alternate Engine. The Administration strongly objects to the addition of $130 million to produce, and $430 million to continue the development of, the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) alternate engine, which was proposed for termination by the President. Expenditures on an alternate engine for the JSF are unnecessary and divert resources from the overall JSF program. The current engine is performing well, and the risks associated with a single engine provider are manageable. If the final bill presented to the President would seriously disrupt the F-35 program, the President’s senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.
Read the full Statement of Administration Policy here.

Deficit Hawk Explains His Vote on the Alternate Engine

Influential fiscal conservative and Armed Services Committee member Senator Ben Nelson explains his vote to cancel funding for an alternate engine in today's McCook Daily Gazette, his hometown newspaper:
I voted with 58 other senators against an amendment funding an alternate engine for the military's new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Senators supporting the program--again from states where the alternate engine is under development--argued it would push competition. That makes sense sometimes...but not in this case.

They suggested paying for the alternate engine by taking money from Marine Corps' helicopters to be used in Afghanistan. They also proposed taking money from Air Force special operations C-130 aircraft used to transport military personnel and materials to Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world.

Full story here.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Senate eliminates funding for alternate engine

The Hill reports that following a 59-38 vote against an amendment to continue funding for an alternate engine, the Senate adopted Senator Joe Lieberman's amendment that "bars spending on an alternative engine until the Defense secretary certifies that such a program would reduce the fighter program’s costs, improve the planes’ readiness and not disrupt development or result in fewer fighters procured."

The full story is here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

F-22 not the only wasteful military spending

Former State Senator Len Teitelbaum, in an opinion piece in the Baltimore Sun writes, “As a member of the military, a legislator and an American citizen, in a time when teachers are being laid off, veterans are being cheated out of healthcare, and families are struggling to get by, here's my question: Do we really need to spend another $5 billion on a backup engine no one wants?”

Read the whole article and let us know what you think.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lieberman, McCain introduce Amendment to eliminate alternate engine earmark

Amy McCullough with the Marine Corps Times writes about the amendment that Senators Lieberman, McCain and others in the Senate have proposed to eliminate the funding for the JSF alternate engine. The Marine Corps, Sec. of Defense, and White House agree with Lieberman that the risk to prolonging the overall JSF program is too great.

Monday, July 20, 2009

War of Words Erupts Over F-35 Engines

Aviation Week journalist Guy Norris writes about the upcoming battles in the House and Senate over whether to fund the alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter. He also aptly discusses the time and cost considerations of developing two separate engines for the aircraft. Norris interviewed Warren Boley, Pratt & Whitney vice president for F135 programs, who discussed Pratt & Whitney’s successes with the F135 engine powering the F-35 Lightning II flight test program. Boley also discussed cost saving plans for the F135 engine program. "We know what the F-35 Joint Program Office needs, and we know we can get it because we did it on the F119."Read the whole article and let us know what you think.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Administation reiterates its objections to the alternate engine today

Take a look at today’s Statement of Administration Policy … a strong reiteration of the administration’s objection to funding the alternate engine. The relevant paragraph reads:

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program: The Administration strongly objects to the addition of $438.9 million for development of the alternative engine program. The Administration also objects to provisions of the bill that mandate an alternative engine program for the JSF. The current engine is performing well with more than 11,000 test hours. In addition, the risks associated with a single engine provider are manageable as evidenced by the performance of the F-22 and F/A-18E/F, Air Force and Navy programs supplied by a single engine provider. Expenditures on a second engine are unnecessary and impede the progress of the overall JSF program. The Air Force currently has several fleets that operate on a single-engine source. The Administration also objects to the limit on the obligation of overall JSF development funding to 90 percent of the amount authorized until the Secretary of Defense submits a written certification that sufficient funds have been obligated in FY 2010 for the alternative engine program. If the final bill presented to the President would seriously disrupt the F-35 program, the President’s senior advisors would recommend a veto.

The SAP mentions the current engine’s more than 11,000 test hours. This figure will soon reach 12,000 test hours – adding another 1,000 hours of demonstrated, proven performance and one more feather in the F135's cap.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

CCAGW to House and Senate Leadership: Nix Funding for the JSF Alternate Engine

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste sent a letter on Friday to Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Reid and other leaders in Congress urging them to eliminate funding for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) alternate engine from H.R. 2647, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010.
The letter reads..

McCain voices his disappointment that the alternate engine funding is still in the bill

As the Senate debates the National Defense Authorization Act this week, Senator John McCain made his views on the alternate engine crystal clear yesterday on the floor of the Senate...."I was disappointed that, in spite of a veto threats from The White House, our Committee chose to add $1.75 billion for seven F-22 aircraft, and $439 million for an alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter."

Read the floor statement

The F-22 and the Alternate Engine

As the Senate begins consideration of the Defense Authorization bill this week, you’re likely to see, hear and read an awful lot about the F-22.

While we don’t want to trivialize the debate on the F-22, it may be getting more than its share of attention. For example, noted defense expert Lawrence Korb wrote last week in the Philadelphia Inquirer about “A Jet Even the Military Doesn’t Want.” Of course, we’ve been talking for months about an engine even the military doesn’t want. Korb mentions the alternate engine and agrees with the argument we’ve been making here that “we cannot waste billions on unnecessary military equipment”, but his column is focused on the F-22.

Similarly, two well known and highly respected government watchdog groups, POGO (Project on Government Oversight) and Taxpayers for Common Sense, wrote a letter to the Senate, urging it to eliminate additional funding for the F-22s. They even criticized the fact that money from the Joint Strike Fighter’s management reserve fund would be used to fund the additional F-22s, but no mention of the alternate engine issue. To it’s credit, Taxpayers for Common Sense mentioned the alternate engine issue in an earlier post on President Obama’s veto threat to Congress, but again, the headliner was the F-22.

Korb laments that the additional F-22s funded by the House will cost U.S. taxpayers about $2 billion. A 2007 GAO report estimated that the alternate engine would cost about $7.2 billion, while a congressionally mandated study by the Pentagon’s Institute for Defense Analysis estimates the cost of the alternate engine at $8.8 billion. That’s real money, and it’s being spent on something that won’t save money or improve the nation’s military readiness.

The alternate engine issue may not be on the front pages of the major newspapers, but it deserves attention and debate. Let us know what you think.

Monday, July 13, 2009

CCAGW to Obama: Veto of Defense Bill First Test of Fiscal Backbone

Citizens Against Government Waste came out swinging last week urging President Obama to make good on his promise to veto the Defense Authorization bill if Congress leaves in funding for the alternate engine as well as additional F-22's.

“This will be a test of the President’s mettle,” said CCAGW President Tom Schatz. “The President targeted both of these programs as wasteful and unnecessary. The Office of Management and Budget’s June 24 Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) warned of a veto if Congress included funding for the F-22 and JSF alternate engine in defense funding bills. Congress thumbed its nose at him and taxpayers are about to discover whether President Obama intends to keep his promise to slice $17 billion from the bloated budget.”

Read about it here

Friday, July 10, 2009

The F135's Proven Track Record

The debate over the alternate engine for the F-35 Lightning II spans many details – cost, reliability, safety. But sometimes lost in the discussion is the fact that there is one engine that is already powering F-35 prototypes and logging development milestones, and there is one lagging years behind.

Way out in front is the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine. It originated from the engine powering the F-22 Raptor in development and deployment for more than 15 years. The version on the Joint Strike Fighter F-35 – the F135 engine – has passed more than a dozen important development milestones over the last seven years. In the meantime, the alternate engine remains at least four years behind in the development process.

Consider the origins of the F135 – the F119-PW-100 engine. The F119 is the world’s most advanced turbofan engine powering the most technologically superior fighter aircraft the world has ever seen. The F119 recently surpassed 100,000 flight hours and features huge leaps in prognostics and health management systems and is designed to be much cheaper to maintain than other engines.

Why is the F119 engine important to the debate over the F135 engine? Because the F135 engine shares the same core as its Pratt & Whitney predecessor. That means there is already a proven track record of safety and reliability in the engine family, a critical concern for the single engine F-35.

That heritage only underscores the track record of the F135 engine itself. It powered the first Joint Strike Fighter to take to the skies on Dec. 15, 2006 and has been performing well ever since. It cleared Preliminary Design Review in May 2002 and Critical Design Review in May 2003. Delivery of the first engine to test came in October 2003 and first propulsion system to test – the Short Take-Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) version – came in April 2004. First flight for the Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) was in December of 2006, followed by first flight for the STOVL in June 2008.

There were a number of additional accomplishments for the F135 engine that year, including successful aerial engine restart testing and achieving supersonic flight. When the first Lighting II’s enter operation in 2013, the F135 engine will have more than 16,000 test hours to its credit. The engine it is built upon – the F119 powering the F-22 Raptor – will have more than 500,000 flying hours.

The alternate engine sits in stark contrast. It is not based on a proven legacy engine, so there is no significant development, test or operational experience on the design. In fact, it is based on the engine that lost the competition to power the F-22. The alternate engine is four years behind the F135 engine and will have to compress development to make up for lost time, with 20 percent less window from first engine test to service release. Ask anyone with experience in advanced technology procurement and they will tell you that is not the blueprint for smooth, problem-free development. In fact, the alternate engine carries the baggage of huge risk for development delay and cost overruns.

The F135 engine’s proven track record is just one reason why President Obama, Defense Secretary Gates and others in the know have come out strongly against the alternate engine. Congress should pay attention.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Reducing Costs for the F135 reporter and DEW Line blogger Stephen Trimble has a blog post out this week on Pratt & Whitney’s efforts to contain costs for the F135 engine. Take a look.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Veteran's Organization Urges Rep. Murtha To Support Cancellation of Alternate Engine

Citing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’s admonition that “one dollar of pork in our budget is a dollar I can’t spend to support these Marines,” AMVETS National Legislative Director Raymond Kelley has written to House Defense Appropriations Chairman John Murtha urging him to support President Obama’s decision to cancel the alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Kelley notes that “the current engine is capably powering the Joint Strike Fighter through its testing phases with proven technology. The bottom line is that funding an alternate engine will continue to cost American taxpayers billions of dollars, while simultaneously contributing to the growing fighter gap our military faces.”

Navy Admiral Offers New Ammo Against Alternate Engine

Congressional Quarterly reports that Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead offered his opposition to the alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.  The top Navy officer made no bones about the fact that he doesn’t want a second engine.

Readers of this blog know we have outlined a number of reasons why continuing to fund an alternate engine for the F-35 Lightning II is not a good decision.  We’ve made the case that it won’t save taxpayer’s money, it won’t improve the safety and reliability of the Joint Strike Fighter, and we’ve reported that the military leadership at the Pentagon believes funding the backup engine could mean building as many as 50 fewer planes at a time when our country faces a growing fighter gap.

Admiral Roughead added a new argument – that keeping parts for two engines on the decks of aircraft carriers wasn’t advisable.

“Space is at a premium, he said.  “Therefore you can put me solidly in the one-engine camp.”

CQ’s story indicated that “Roughead’s opposition to the second engine could fortify the administration’s case.”

Read the full story here.