Pratt & Whitney was awarded a $14.9 million US Navy contract update to cover expenses for an F135 jet engine sustainment cost monitoring program, to reduce future costs sustainment of the propulsion of the F-35. The F135 is the turbofan power source for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, America’s largest defense program.
The new contract will be executed by P&W in East Hartford, Connecticut, and Oklahoma City, and is expected to be completed in September 2024.
The F-35 is a single-engine stealth aircraft designed to be deployed for ground attack and combat. The fighter is now in its second decade of production, but the costs of the program have come under almost constant scrutiny – primarily for production expenses but also for operating and maintenance costs.
A report last year claimed that F135 engines in USAF F-35A aircraft were operating near their design limits, leading to premature cracking of turbine blade coatings. The cracking reduced the life of the F135 engines and the availability of Air Force jets while the engines were being repaired.
The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for the F-35 program, are reportedly close to agreeing on a $30 billion contract for the next three F-35 production cycles, Cycles 15, 16 and 17, although the number of aircraft to be supplied remains unresolved.
In June, the Ministry of Defense authorized Pratt & Whitney to proceed with the acquisition and production of 178 new F135 engines.