Rolls-Royce delivers first production LiftSystem® hardware for F-35 STOVL

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Rolls-Royce today announced it has delivered its first production Variable Area Vane Box Nozzle (VAVBN) to Pratt & Whitney for integration on the F-35B Lightning II aircraft. The VAVBN is now ready to be shipped to Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) partner Northrop Grumman for integration into the aircraft. Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems are the principal industrial partners developing the F-35 with Lockheed Martin Corporation.

The VAVBN is integral to the aircraft structure and is used to control the LiftFan exit airflow when the short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the aircraft is operated in powered-lift mode. Final assembly was completed at the Rolls-Royce facilities in Indianapolis.

Dennis Jarvi, President for Rolls-Royce Defense North America, said: “Today’s delivery represents a significant milestone for the Rolls-Royce LiftSystem program. The VAVBN provides both thrust vectoring and area-control capability and is an integral part of the aircraft structure. It has undergone over 3500 hours of development testing in the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) program. We are extremely proud that it is ready for production delivery on schedule.”

The VAVBN is installed as one of the first items in the aircraft assembly sequence and, once installed, the VAVBN frame is never removed throughout the service life (8,000 flight hours). The Rolls-Royce LiftSystem consists of the Rolls-Royce LiftFan, the 3 Bearing Swivel Module (3BSM), and the Roll Posts. Rolls-Royce developed the VAVBN as part of the LiftSystem under the F135 System Design and Development contract. The initial VAVBN production delivery will be under the Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP 2) contract awarded in November 2008 worth $131 Million by Pratt & Whitney for the F135 LRIP2 Program. This VAVBN delivery is the first of six for the STOVL variant F-35B Lightning aircraft. Delivery of the remaining LiftSystem modules under the LRIP 2 contract will begin in 2009 and continue through 2010.

  1. In December 2001, Rolls-Royce signed a contract with Pratt & Whitney for development of the LiftSystem components of the F135 STOVL Propulsion System. The contract, which covers the design and development work of the STOVL elements during the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the program, is worth $1 billion to Rolls-Royce over 10 years.
  2. The LiftFan, a 50-inch two-stage counter rotating fan capable of generating more than 20,000 lbs. of thrust, is driven by the aircraft main engine and supplies the forward vertical lift. The 3BSM is a swiveling 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 18,000 lbs. 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 1,950 lbs. thrust from the main engine.
  3. Rolls-Royce, a world-leading provider of power systems and services for use on land, at sea and in the air, has established a strong position in global markets - civil aerospace, defense aerospace, marine and energy.
  4. Rolls-Royce has a broad customer base comprising nearly 600 airlines, 4,000 corporate and utility aircraft and helicopter operators, 160 armed forces and more than 2,000 marine customers, including 70 navies. The company has energy customers in nearly 120 countries. Rolls-Royce employs around 39,000 people, of which 22,000 are in the UK. Forty per cent of its employees are based outside the UK - including 8,000 in North America.
  5. Rolls-Royce is working hard to improve the environmental impact of its products. Each year, in collaboration with its partners, it invests over £800 million on research and development, two thirds of which has the objective of reducing the environmental impact of its products. The primary technology investment area is aimed at reducing noise and emissions.
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