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.