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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 gamerk2 on 2/11/2011 2:40:27 PM , Rating: -1
So? Just put a really good Jammer on tne thing, just like the B1 [which I note has dropped more tonnage in the Iraqi war then every other platform combined, and yet despite being non-stealthy, they're not dropping from the skies in massive numbers...]

Fact is, between the B1 and B52, the AF has no need for a new heavy bomber. The A-10 covers the ground attack role, and drones will eventually take over the strike capacity. Hence, little need for a real ambitious bomber project.

RE: question
By Azsen on 2/11/2011 7:03:31 PM , Rating: 5
Iraq air defense was also down in the initial days of the war, you can fly 100 Boeing 747s over and they couldn't do anything about it. Lets say you want to attack North Korea with B-52s/B-1s there's no way you're going to use them in the initial strike, they'll see you coming and get advanced warning to get their air-defense on alert and fighters in the air. You need air superiority for these aircraft to be useful. Now a B-2 or X-47B on the other hand you could probably fly in and bomb whatever you wanted and get out before they realised what hit them.

RE: question
By AssBall on 2/12/2011 4:10:42 PM , Rating: 2
Now a B-2 or X-47B on the other hand you could probably fly in and bomb whatever you wanted and get out before they realised what hit them.

While I agree with what you say, why not just make cheap guided ordinance instead? Make a cheap cruise missile with more fuel and a dude driving it from the cruiser or sub, basically. Put a cumputer, radar, camera, and radar detection, and some high G wings on. Not like ICBM scale, maybe something that is reusable assuming the target had to be aborted. It would get there even faster than planes, be more maneuverable, and be harder to counter. Could take out all the weight of human interface electronics and hard points, armor, landing gear(recover with a chute), etc.

Just a thought. Then all you need is air defense systems for your own forces, no pricey bombers. It would be interesting to see the development and maintenance cost of maintaining B2 fleet compared with something along these lines.

Our computer guided guided Tomahawks were pretty accurate in Desert Storm (esp compared to rofl SCUD) and that was 20 years ago computer tech.

RE: question
By Rage2565 on 2/12/2011 9:27:23 AM , Rating: 2
I've worked B-1s and you obviously are not in the aircraft maintenance field. Those bombers take an enormous amount of manpower to generate sorties compared to other aircraft in our inventory. I love the B-1b, amazing aircraft but their age is showing. We need a new bomber, hopefully based off of the b-1b.

RE: question
By JonnyDough on 2/13/2011 4:38:09 AM , Rating: 2
Not to mention the age of the A-10. They're being canabilized like crazy. I'm a C-27 crew chief in training at Sheppard. :)

RE: question
By JediJeb on 2/13/2011 10:16:06 AM , Rating: 2
I remember back at around the time the first Iraq war began the USAF was wanting to retire the A-10 and use the F-16 to take over it's duties. That would be like asking a Forumla 1 race car to replace a Humvee.

The A-10 is a wonderful aircraft and perfectly suited to its role, I hope when they do replace it they will put some effort into making a newer version of it instead of just trying to throw what they have into a role only a specialized aircraft like the A-10 is suited for.

RE: question
By Manch on 2/14/2011 11:14:09 AM , Rating: 2
You mean like they're doing now with the F-35? That's supposed to be the replacement. Thye've also talked about using F-16's. Eitehr choice is just stupid. We need a next gen A-10.

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