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.