Rolls-Royce LiftSystem demonstrates success in first vertical landing

Friday, 19 March 2010

Rolls-Royce, the global power systems company, successfully demonstrated the capabilities of its unique LiftSystem™ technology with the first vertical landing of the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

The successful flight test took place yesterday, Thursday 18 March, at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland landing at 1.21pm Eastern Daylight Time (5.21pm GMT).

The LiftSystem is the technology that enables short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) operations for F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

Dan Korte, Rolls-Royce, President - Defence, said: “Rolls-Royce is proud of the role it plays in the F-35 program, bringing innovative STOVL technology through the Rolls-Royce LiftSystem®. The success of this first vertical landing marks a significant accomplishment for the program and demonstrates the unique capabilities for which the LiftSystem was designed: smooth transition from forward flight to vertical landing mode.

“Rolls-Royce is a pioneer in the area of vertical lift propulsion system technology, first with the unique Harrier jump-jet and now with its next generation, through the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. The LiftSystem is a major advance in aerospace technology that will play a key part in the history’s largest fighter aircraft program”, he said.

The Rolls-Royce LiftSystem comprises a LiftFan™, Variable Area Vanebox Nozzle (VAVBN), 3 Bearing Swivel Module (3BSM) and Roll Posts.

Orders for the LiftSystem are expected to total over 600, with leading customers including the US Marine Corps, The UK Armed Forces and the Italian Navy. The F-35B variant is expected to remain in service well after 2050.

  1. 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, defence aerospace, marine and energy.
  2. As a result of this strategy, Rolls-Royce today has a broad customer base comprising more than 600 airlines, 4,000 corporate and utility aircraft and helicopter operators, 160 armed forces, more than 2,000 marine customers, including 70 navies, and energy customers in nearly 120 countries, with an installed base of 54,000 gas turbines.
  3. Rolls-Royce employs over 38,000 skilled people in offices, manufacturing and service facilities in 50 countries. The Group has a strong commitment to apprentice and graduate recruitment, and to further developing employee skills.
  4. In 2009, Rolls-Royce invested  £864 million on research and development, two thirds of which had the objective of further improving the environmental aspects of its products, in particular the reduction of emissions.
  5. Annual underlying revenues were £10.1 billion in 2009, of which about half came from services revenues.  The firm and announced order book stood at £58.3 billion at 31 December 2009, providing visibility of future levels of activity.
  6. 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 through the Rolls-Royce Driveshaft and Clutch 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.
  7. In November 2009, Rolls-Royce signed a $171 million contract with Pratt & Whitney to supply the Rolls-Royce LiftSystem for nine Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant F-35B Lightning II aircraft as part of the third lot of Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP). The previous contract, for LRIP 2 and signed in December 2008, was for $131 million.

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