GE, Rolls Royce to Begin Testing a Production Configured F136 Engine for JSF


General Electric and Rolls Royce are planning to begin testing a production configured of the F136, the alternate power plant for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. “Based our successful test results and the recent completion of our Critical Design Review, we’re on track to begin testing the F136 production-configuration in just a few months,” said Jean Lydon-Rodgers, President of the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team. The F136 engine, a 40,000+ lb. thrust engine is designed to power all the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). the Fighter Engine Team recently completed a successful Critical Design Review, validating the unique design of the engine. The team indicated the F136 program remains on schedule and within budget and is fully funded by the US Government for FY 2008. More than 50 percent of the System Development and Demonstration funding for the engine has already been appropriated and the US Government has invested more than $2 Billion in the program.

The GE-Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team recently completed a high-altitude afterburner testing program of the engine, proposed as an alternative to the F135 currently flying on the F35s prototypes. These tests were performed at the US Air Force Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tennessee, with engines configured with Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL) and Short Takeoff Vertical Landing (STOVL) common exhaust systems. The engine configuration included a production-size fan and functional augmentor allowing several run periods to full afterburner operation. The two engines being tested were produced during the pre-System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase. CTOL test objectives were successfully accomplished in mid-March 08. STOVL testing continue for several weeks to come. Representing the latest configuration, the original powerplants have been updated with new fan, augmentor and controls technology designed during the SDD process.

The pre-SDD engines have totaled more than 600 hours of test time, contributing significantly to risk reduction in the program. The first full SDD engine is scheduled to begin testing by early 2009, with first flight in the F-35 to follow in 2010. The SDD phase is scheduled to run through 2013; the first production F136 engines are scheduled to be delivered in 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 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.

The two team partners share the work on the F136 with GE – Aviation, responsible for 60 percent of the F136 program, 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.