GE/RR F136 Jet Engine Passes Critical Design Review
The US Air Force has repeatedly tried to kill the The F136 alternate engine program in favor of the Pratt & Whitney F135 that powers the existing fleet. In response, Congress looked at the success of dual-engine programs for the F-16 and now the F-15 as well, and voted twice to restore funding.
F136 engine tests continue at a unique, new test facility, located at a GE center at Peebles, OH (normal & STOVL engines) as well as at the US Air Force Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tennessee (basic F136 + F-35 exhaust nozzle). F-35 system development is scheduled to run through 2013, with the first production 40,000+ thrust F136 engines scheduled for delivery in “late 2012,” during F-35 Lot IV production.
Until then, all F-35s will fly with the Pratt & Whitney’s F135 engine, whose version for the F-35B STOVL fighter uses the same Rolls Royce Lift System add-ins that would be found in the F136…
Once the F136 is delivered, however, customers will be able to choose either engine for their F-35s. Britain, for instance, is almost certain to choose the GE/Rolls Royce F136, and so its successful delivery will affect Britain’s ability to field F-35s in time to deploy on its new Queen Elizabeth Class full-size CVF carriers.
On Feb 13/08, the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team announced that its engine has completed its Critical Design Review, wherein the US Government’s Joint Program Office (JPO) for the F-35 Lightning II validates and approves the design of the engine before proceeding with the building of the first full development engines. The process, held at GE’s Evandale, OH facility, involved 80 detailed component and module design reviews, involving technical experts from the JPO, General Electric and Rolls-Royce.
Given past Pentagon attempts to kill the F-136 engine program, it’s hardly surprising for GE to add that the F136 engine is in the 3rd year of the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) contract “with full funding for FY 2008 and more than half of the overall SDD funding already appropriated.” Furthermore, “about 800 engineers and technicians are engaged in the F136 program at GE Aviation’s Cincinnati, Ohio, headquarters, and at Rolls-Royce facilities in Indianapolis, Indiana; and Bristol, England.” GE release.