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GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team Successfully Completes Key Component Tests

June 18, 2007

LE BOURGET -- The GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team successfully completed testing in May of the F136 development engine's product-configuration front fan, with tests slated for later this summer on the augmenter.

By year's end, the Fighter Engine Team will have run tests on the front fan, low-pressure turbine system, controls systems, and augmenter. These tests are being conducted at GE facilities in Cincinnati and Peebles, Ohio; and at the Arnold Engineering Center at Tullahoma, Tennessee.

Completion of these key component tests will lead to the Critical Design Review (CDR) in early 2008, conducted by the Joint Strike Fighter program office. During that review, every aspect of the engine design is analyzed and evaluated in order to proceed with the building of the first full development engines.

Presently, the new engine components are being validated by running them in original F136 prototypes built by the fighter team before the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) program was formally launched in August 2005 with a $2.4 billion contract award.

The first full F136 development engine in the SDD program is expected to test in early 2009, followed by the first flight on the F-35 Lightning II aircraft in 2010.

The SDD phase is scheduled to run through 2013; the first production F136 engines are scheduled to be delivered in late 2012 for the F-35 Lightning II aircraft. This occurs during the fourth lot of F-35 aircraft production, which is very early in the overall aircraft production program.

"The testing this year has been very promising," said Jean Lydon-Rodgers, president of the Fighter Engine Team. "In addition to validating our design, the component tests are confirming the long-term, affordable growth capability inherent in our engine design."

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.

"Our ongoing tests also demonstrate excellent value for the customer as we continue to deliver our commitments on time and within budget," said Mark Rhodes, senior vice president of the Fighter Engine Team. "This is a credit to the dedication of the Fighter Engine Team, and also highlights the drive to succeed when competition exists in the engine program."

The F-35 is a next-generation, multi-role stealth aircraft designed to replace the AV-8B Harrier, A-10, F-16, F/A-18 Hornet and the United Kingdom's Harrier GR.7 and Sea Harrier, all of which are currently powered by GE or Rolls-Royce making them the engine powers of choice for the U.S. and U.K. militaries. Potential F-35 production for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marines and international customers, including the UK Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, may reach as many as 5000 to 6000 aircraft over the next 30 years.

The F136 will be fully interchangeable for the F-35. The F136 was the first F-35 engine to offer a single engine configuration for all three versions of the aircraft: STOVL for the U.S. Marine Corps and U.K. Royal Navy, Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL) for the U.S. Air Force, and the Carrier Variant (CV) for the U.S. Navy.

With the infusion of best practices and improved technology, the F136 is expected to exceed requirements for maintainability, affordability, and reliability for all F-35 variants, while enhancing the ability of the U.S. services and international partners to cooperate in joint coalition operations.

Editor's notes

GE Aviation, with responsibility for 60 percent of the F136 program, is developing the core compressor and coupled high-pressure/low-pressure turbine system components, controls and accessories, and the augmentor. Rolls-Royce, with 40 percent of the F136 program, is responsible for the front fan, combustor, stages 2 and 3 of the low-pressure turbine, and gearboxes. International participant countries are also contributing to the F136 through involvement in engine development and component manufacturing.

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