The GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team has successfully completed its Critical Design Review, a major milestone in the F136 engine development program.
The F136 engine is a 40,000+ lb. thrust combat engine that will be available to power all variants of the F-35 Lightning II aircraft for the US military and eight partner nations.
During Critical Design Review (CDR), the US Government’s Joint Program Office for the F-35 Lightning II validates and approves the design of the engine. During that review, every aspect of the engine design is analyzed and evaluated in order to proceed with the building of the first full development engines. The process involved 80 detailed component and module design reviews, involving technical experts from the JPO, General Electric and Rolls-Royce.
Completion of CDR is an important step that signifies the F136 program is moving from early design phases toward production.
“The CDR, held at the GE Evendale facility, was the culmination of over four months of detailed component, module and system reviews between the Fighter Engine Team and JPO propulsion teams. The F136 met the milestone requirements and this serves as an important step on the path towards a competitive engine for the F-35, which is on course to power their first F-35 flight by 2010. Challenges exist, but the F136 is well positioned to meet them,” said John White, Director of Engineering for the Joint Program Office.
“This milestone demonstrates that two global leaders in propulsion can combine their experience and their best technologies, resulting in an innovative design and one of the most advanced combat engines ever created. The GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team has reached that goal while staying within its budget and staying on schedule,” said Jean Lydon-Rodgers, President of the Fighter Engine Team.
“This represents a major achievement for one of the greatest engine design teams ever assembled, striving to provide the best engine to the warfighter. Now, we move on to delivering the first production configuration engine within a year, with first flight in the F-35 Lightning II scheduled for 2010,” said Mark Rhodes, Senior Vice President of the Fighter Engine Team.
F136 engine tests continue at a unique, new test facility, located at a GE center at Peebles, Ohio, as well as at the US Air Force Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tennessee. The Peebles tests include an engine in Short Take Off, Vertical Landing (STOVL) mode, while the AEDC tests are being conducted in Conventional Take off and Landing (CTOL) mode, including the F-35 exhaust nozzle -- which is common hardware to both engine types for the aircraft.
The F136 engine is in the third year of a System Development and Demonstration (SDD) contract with full funding for FY 2008 and more than half of the overall SDD funding already appropriated.
The SDD phase is scheduled to run through 2013; the first production F136 engines are scheduled to be delivered in late 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.
About 800 engineers and technicians are engaged in the F136 program at GE Aviation’s Cincinnati, Ohio, headquarters, and at Rolls-Royce facilities in Indianapolis, Indiana; and Bristol, England.
GE - Aviation, with responsibility for 60 percent of the F136 program, is 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.
The F-35 is a next-generation, multi-role stealth aircraft designed to replace the AV-8B Harrier, A-10, F-16, F/A-18 Hornet and the United Kingdom’s Harrier GR.7 and Sea Harrier, all of which are currently powered by GE or Rolls-Royce making them the engine powers of choice for the U.S. and U.K. militaries. Potential F-35 production for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marines and international customers, including the UK Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, may reach as many as 5000 to 6000 aircraft over the next 30 years.
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.
With the infusion of best practices and improved technology, the F136 is expected to exceed requirements for maintainability, affordability, and reliability for all F-35 variants, while enhancing the ability of the U.S. services and international partners to cooperate in joint coalition operations.