GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team completes engine study for Australia

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Avalon Air Show, Geelong, Australia – 11 March, 2009 - The GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team has completed its recommendations to the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office and the Australian Department of Defence for maintenance and repair of engines for future F-35 Lightning II aircraft.

The GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team is developing the F136 engine for the F-35 aircraft and had been requested by the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office and the Australian Department of Defence to provide details and recommendations on how the Royal Australian Air Force will maintain the engines on its future JSF aircraft. The Joint Strike Fighter program will recommend that F-35 propulsion systems be maintained through a “Performance-Based Logistics” (PBL) contracting process, in which military customers receive guarantees of in-service engines at an agreed-to level, as opposed to a traditional time and material contract.

The new propulsion sustainment study also highlights the solid histories of GE and Rolls-Royce as well as the companies’ services experience with a variety of businesses and military customers in Australia.

The GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine team combines the world’s leading propulsion companies to develop the F136 engine – the most advanced fighter engine ever designed. The F136 engine includes reduced numbers of parts and a significant temperature margin – both of which will decrease maintenance costs over time.

Both parent companies have extensive, successful experience in the development of Performance-Based Logistics contracts for engine support in Australia, the US and other nations. Both companies also maintain a significant presence in Australia, with corporate offices, engineering and field service operations, and employees totaling in the thousands across several different business sectors.

GE has extensive experience in support of gas turbine engines in the aviation, mining and power-generation business sectors in Australia. In commercial aviation, GE has delivered successful support to Qantas, Jetstar and Malaysian Airlines for many years.

On the military side, GE has been recognized by the Government of Australia for working closely together to build capability. The latest example of this relationship is the F404/F414 Total Logistics Support Contract for engine support of the RAAF Hornet and Super Hornet fleet. GE is working with TAE in Amberley and Williamtown; Goodrich Control Systems Australia in Sydney; Honeywell in Melbourne; and an extensive list of Small Medium Enterprise subcontractors throughout Australia to execute this PBL contract.

Rolls-Royce also powers significant numbers of commercial and military aircraft and naval ships in service in Australia and New Zealand. Commercially, Rolls-Royce engines power Qantas, Jetstar and Air New Zealand aircraft. On the military side, Rolls-Royce engines power C-130 transports, AP-3C surveillance aircraft, NH90, Tiger, Kiowa and Sea King helicopters, Boeing 757 transports and Hawk training aircraft in use by defence forces, and the company maintains successful service programs and technical representatives on air bases for these applications.

“Our F136 team brings an unmatched wealth of experience in supporting both commercial and military aircraft in Australia. The F136 design will benefit the customer by reducing maintenance costs over the lifetime of the engine. In addition to our industrial participation already in place, we are exploring several other opportunities with Australian industry,” said Jean Lydon-Rodgers, President of the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team.

“The F136 engine incorporates several key advantages for the military customer, including a significant temperature margin, expanding ‘hot and high’ capability, and offering affordable growth built into the design. Coupled with the successful history of aftermarket support demonstrated by GE and Rolls-Royce, these advantages make the F136 an outstanding choice for F-35 customers,” said Mark Rhodes, Senior Vice President of the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team.

The new, production-configuration F136 engine began testing in January 2009, a month ahead of schedule, at GE’s test facility in Evendale, Ohio, US. This represents the first complete engine assembled following US Government validation of the F136 design in 2008. Previously, the F136 program has totaled more than 800 hours of risk-reduction testing with two earlier engine prototypes, incorporating new-build components.

Additional new engine builds are already under way, with several F136 engines scheduled to be in test by the end of 2009. Overall, the F136 program remains on schedule and within budget, and is funded through FY2009.

The F136 engine is a true international program, with workscope in Australia and all other international partners in the Joint Strike Fighter program. Metaltec Precision International, Production Parts, and Broens in Australia have been awarded manufacturing contracts under the Fighter Engine Team’s System Development and Demonstration program. In 2007, Rolls-Royce signed agreements with the New Air Combat Capability team to explore and develop collaborative Research and Development activities, and with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) enabling students to work on the F136 program.

The F136 engine program has a solid history of executing its contract on schedule and within budget. As a result, the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team consistently receives “exceptional” reviews from the JPO for program execution.

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 new Site 7 at the GE test facility represents a multi-million dollar investment by the company in the F136 development program. Additional tests also occurred at GE’s Evendale facility, as well as the US Air Force Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tennessee.

About 70 percent of the development funding for the engine has already been appropriated and the US Government has invested more than $2 Billion in the program.

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. Potential F-35 production for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marines and international customers may reach as many as 5000 to 6000 aircraft over the next 30 years.

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