Rolls-Royce signs $131 million F-35 STOVL Liftsystem contract

Monday, 15 December 2008

Rolls-Royce has signed a $131 million contract with Pratt & Whitney to supply LiftSystems for the first six Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant F-35B Lightning II aircraft. This order is significant and represents the first production contract for Rolls-Royce as part of its involvement in the world’s biggest-ever defence procurement programme.

The Rolls-Royce LiftSystem® comprises a LiftFan, Roll Posts and 3 Bearing Swivel Module. Rolls-Royce will provide these through the propulsion system prime contractor Pratt & Whitney, with parts deliveries beginning as early as next month. The scope of the contract also includes spare hardware, production investment and sustainment planning.

Axel Arendt, President of Defence at Rolls-Royce, said: “STOVL technology is a huge asset for Rolls-Royce and the company has played a pioneering role in its development since the launch of the Pegasus engine for the Harrier in the late 1950s. With the F-35 project we are utilising the latest technologies to power the next generation of STOVL aircraft”.

Simon Henley, Programme Director for New Product Introduction at Rolls-Royce, said: “The LiftSystem programme is rapidly gaining momentum on both sides of the Atlantic and this significant step forward puts us firmly into the production phase for this game-changing aircraft.”

Orders for the LiftSystem are expected to total over 600, with leading customers including the US Marine Corps, The UK Armed Forces and the Italian Navy. The F-35B variant is expected to remain in service well after 2050.

Rolls-Royce engineers in Bristol, UK and Indianapolis, US, are involved in design and assembly of the LiftSystem, with component manufacture also taking place at the Hucknall and Bristol sites in the UK.

This production contract follows on from the $1.1bn contract signed with Pratt & Whitney in 2001 to develop the F135 STOVL Propulsion System.

  1. Rolls-Royce, a world-leading provider of power systems and services for use on land, at sea and in the air, operates in four global markets – civil aerospace, defence aerospace, marine and energy. Rolls-Royce has a broad customer base comprising 600 airlines, 4,000 corporate and utility aircraft and helicopter operators, 160 armed forces, more than 2,000 marine customers including 70 navies, and energy customers in 120 countries.
  2. Rolls-Royce is under contract to Pratt & Whitney for development of the LiftSystem components of the F135 STOVL Propulsion System. The contract signed with Pratt & Whitney in December 2001, which covers the design and development work of the STOVL elements during the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the programme, is worth $1.1 billion to Rolls-Royce over 10 years.
  3. The LiftFan, a 50-inch two-stage counter rotating fan capable of generating more than 20,000lb of thrust, is driven by the aircraft main engine and supplies the forward vertical lift. The 3BSM is a swivelling jet pipe capable of redirecting the rear thrust from the horizontal to the vertical position. It can rotate through 95 degrees in 2.5 seconds and passes 18,000lb of thrust generated from the main engine. Aircraft roll control is achieved using the Roll Posts mounted in the wings of the aircraft, each of which provides further 1,950lb thrust from the main engine.

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