Now that the holiday season is behind us, EagleBlogger is back from hiatus. However, that doesn’t mean the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine program has taken a break, far from it.
In fact, just in time for the holiday season, Pratt & Whitney has delivered its final Conventional Take Off and Landing/Carrier Variant (CTOL/CV) F135 flight test engine to the U.S. Air Force. This marks yet another important milestone in the transition from System Design and Demonstration to full production for the F135 engine. Pratt & Whitney has delivered 17 F135 flight test engines and expects handing over of the final Short Take Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) test engine early this year, for a total delivery of 18 flight test engines – still the only propulsion system powering the F-35 Lightning II flight test program.
And as another illustration of this transition from SDD to production, Pratt & Whitney finished assembly and test last month of the first F135 engine production line at their facility in Middletown, Connecticut.
Best practices gleaned from the F-22 Raptor’s F119 engine production line were refined further in the design of the F135 production line. Despite Pratt & Whitney’s undisputed status as the world’s only manufacturer of fifth generation propulsion systems, it invested more than a year planning the first F135 line, leveraging tools from the company’s Achieving Competitive Excellence operating system to maximize integration, efficiency and safety in the years to come. This assembly line will redefine “world class” once operational, powering not just an aircraft, but also the defense of this nation and numerous allies for decades to come.
Meanwhile, the F135 has logged more than 13,000 test hours, powered a non-stop ferry flight from Ft. Worth to the Patuxent River, Maryland flight test location, and just yesterday powered the F-35 through its first in-flight engagement of the STOVL Lift Fan propulsion system.