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F-35B propulsion system has 98% reliability
JSF's F135 engine gets 16% cheaper

Pratt & Whitney (P&W) has announced that it has reached a new handshake agreement with the military for a fourth batch of low production rate F135 engines. These engines power the F-35 aircraft in various forms. The fourth batch of engines will reportedly have a price of 16% less than the previous batches. Pratt & Whitney military engines Chief Warren Boley has noted that P&W is working to get the cost per engine down to about $10 million.

He also noted that the previously reported issue with the engines described as "screech" had been solved and that all new engines would have the fix applied on the assembly line and that the engines already in the field could have the fix installed easily in depot. Boley also stated that all three of the engine versions have received the Initial Service Release that certifies development is complete and so far, the engines have shown 99% reliability.

The most problem-prone version of the F-35 that uses these engines has been the F-35B and Boley noted that it had a mission readiness of 98% for the propulsion system. The F-22 uses the F119 engine and it by comparison has a reliability rating of 98.5%.

P&W is still working to improve the reliability of the F135 engine and improvements will be applied to the sixth and seventh production batches of the engine. Changes are minor according to Boley and will be able to be applied in the field to the existing aircraft.

 

In the military aviation world the more off the shelf parts you can incorporate into a new aircraft design, the cheaper the aircraft will be, the faster it can be fielded, and the more reliable the aircraft is in general. When the Air Force announced that it was lowering expectations for a new long-range bomber, the need for off the shelf parts was noted.

The USAF vision for a new bomber could include the engines used in the F-35 fighters according to Boley. He noted that if the bomber program is not as ambitious as stated by the Air Force the F135 engines could be used in the aircraft and that they would "most definitely" be suitable for a long endurance aircraft.

Boley said, "So the future bomber may be much more off the shelf, much more proven technology, it may be a subsonic bomber, it may use a proven [F-35 Pratt and Whitney] F-135."

Defense News notes that previously officials familiar with long-range strike aircraft had said that the F119 engine from the F-22 and the F135 engine from the F-35 burned fuel too quickly for a long-range aircraft.

P&W is also working on a new engine called the PW9000 that uses the low-pressure compressor from the F135 mated to a core from the geared turbo fan. This engine could possibly be used on the Navy Unmanned Carrier Launch Surveillance and Strike aircraft according to Boley.



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RE: question
By EJ257 on 2/11/2011 11:45:10 AM , Rating: 2
The way I understand it the assembly rigs and tools to make the various parts for the B-52 no longer exists. Whatever is flying today is doing so from existing caches of spares left over from the old days. The fleet of B-52s flying today is a lot smaller than it once was so those spares could probably last until the 2040s. If they want a cheap off the shelf replacement, how about a converted Boeing 767 as the next bomb truck. It will have a lot of common parts with the tanker 767. They could send in the B-2s, F-22s, F-35s and A-47s (X-47's eventual designation?) first day of the war to knock back the enemy's air defense and then send in the B-767 to bomb the living daylights out of them.


RE: question
By Solandri on 2/11/2011 6:07:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If they want a cheap off the shelf replacement, how about a converted Boeing 767 as the next bomb truck.

Normally I'm all for using commercial off-the-shelf parts to cut costs. But using a commercial airframe to drop ordinance... No. Just no. You don't want to go there. The possibility of a commercial aircraft being shot down because someone though it was a military threat... You do not want to go there.


RE: question
By psychmike on 2/11/2011 6:19:54 PM , Rating: 2
The Navy's new Maritime Patrol Aircraft, the P-8 Poseidon, is based on the Boeing 737 airframe.


RE: question
By Jeffk464 on 2/11/2011 11:24:50 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget the commercial re-purposed planes used as air re-fuelers. Those are definitely targets an adversary would want to take down. AWACS are based on a Boeing 707 and for sure that is about the number one target any adversary would want to get rid of.


RE: question
By JediJeb on 2/13/2011 10:19:49 AM , Rating: 2
Also the new flying laser platform is a 747, if it is ever deployed that would be another primary target of interest.


RE: question
By knutjb on 2/12/2011 9:06:08 PM , Rating: 4
To point out the obvious, g-loading. Commercial aircraft will lose their wings attempting a B-1B like evasive maneuver. Delivering bombs has little in common with Fedex, other than getting it there on time.

The other commercial based military aircraft are used in entirely different roles, all low g.

All the stuff to make military aircraft exists, the cost of making a new B-52 doesn't make any sense. Most of the strategic reserve B-52s are now beer cans. As much as I like the B-1 that doesn't make sense either. Why would you try to make a new ENIAC with the advanced tech is currently on the shelf? (this doesn't apply to commercial jets)


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