GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team launches path to flight test

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Evendale, Ohio, US – May 27, 2009 - The GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team has launched its flight clearance certification review, a process that will prepare the F136 engine for flight testing over the next several months.

Following flight certification, the first F136-powered F-35 Lightning II will take to the air in early 2011, in alignment with Lockheed Martin’s ongoing flight test schedule for the Joint Strike Fighter program.

The flight clearance certification reviews will include representatives from the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team, Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Government Joint Program Office, the U.S. Air Force and Navy. The review team will evaluate all pre-flight and performance parameters that will lead the F136 engine to be cleared for flight testing. The review team has already conducted two days of detailed technical reviews, which included representatives from Edwards Air Force Base and Patuxent River Naval Air Station.

“This early look at our flight clearance process and program will enable the Fighter Engine Team to develop the best solutions to complex flight clearance issues, thus ensuring a safe and timely flight release for the F136 engine. We have flight clearance in our sight and will be powering the F-35 in the air very soon, as part of the rapidly developing F-35 program,” said Jean Lydon-Rodgers, President of the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team.

“Flight certification will be a challenging process but the F136 team will deliver on its commitments to Lockheed Martin and the Joint Program Office as we have demonstrated on all of our major milestones to this point. We have a solid record of on-time, on-budget results and every day we are focused on maintaining that level of performance for our customers,” said Mark Rhodes, Senior Vice President for the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team.

The GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team is currently in the fifth year of its System Development and Demonstration (SDD) contract with the Joint Program Office. The first SDD F136 engine, in production-configuration, began testing in January 2009, a month ahead of contract schedule, and has continued testing at GE’s test facility in Evendale, Ohio.

Two other F136 engines are currently in assembly and will be testing within a few months. The Fighter Engine Team has already received 70 percent of the total funding through its SDD contract, and has been progressing on schedule and within budget. The remaining efforts in SDD will lead to the successful completion of the F136 development program and to production engine deliveries in 2012.

The F136 engine is a product of the best technology from GE and Rolls-Royce, two world-leading propulsion companies. The GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team has designed the only engine specifically developed for the F-35 aircraft, offering extra temperature margin and affordable growth. The F136 engine will be available to customers in 2012.

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 F136 engine is the most advanced fighter aircraft engine ever developed and will be available to power all variants of the F-35 Lightning II aircraft for the US military and eight partner nations. The F136 program has already totaled more than 800 hours of testing in SDD and pre-SDD testing.

The first test runs for the new F136 engine in early 2009 topped a year of significant achievements for the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team. The program successfully completed Critical Design Review in 2008, as well as completing the first testing at the unique, new Peebles, Ohio, test site, and full afterburner test runs at the US Air Force Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) test facility in Tennessee.

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 top reviews from the JPO for program execution.

About 900 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.

The SDD phase is scheduled to run through 2013; the first production F136 engines are scheduled to be delivered in 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.

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.

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