Avid readers of this blog and F135engine.com know that the Pratt & Whitney F135 is a direct descendent of the F119 that powers the U.S. Air Force’s F-22 Raptor. Now, the F119 has successfully reached its first hot section full-life capability of 4,325 total accumulated cycles during a recent test at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. This achievement was made possible through an accelerated engine maturity program and the resulting overhaul will provide additional insight into the long-term performance of this engine, as well as the F135.
This accelerated program, called “Compass Vector,” is a Pratt & Whitney and U.S. Air Force partnership to fly certain engines twice the normal rate under various environmental conditions. The resulting data highlights new sustainment opportunities that will maximize readiness for the world’s most advanced operational fighter jet.
Meanwhile, production numbers for the F119 and F135 continue to climb at 360 and 21, respectively. The F135’s scorecard now stands at more than 828 flights, 1,200 flight hours and 86 flawless vertical landings.
Fortunately, the Department of Defense has now terminated the F136 extra engine that never flew, wasn’t wanted by two consecutive presidential administrations, and wouldn’t be used by the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and other initial F-35 customers. In stark contrast to attempts by others to override the express wishes of the customer and taxpayer, Pratt & Whitney’s latest ad pays tribute to those House members (later joined by the Senate), who rejected earmark-laden, pork barrel politics in favor of fiscal responsibility when it’s needed most.
Implausibly, GE claimed until the very end that their still-developmental F136 engine could somehow outperform the Pratt & Whitney F135 that has powered every F-35 flight as above. But don’t take our word for it; check out the latest reasoned opinion delivered by defense industry sage Dr. Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute.
We commend Congress and Secretary Robert Gates for their courageous decisions to defund and then terminate the F136. Whether it’s on the flight line or Capitol Hill, actions continue to speak louder than words.