The international defense industry fair (IDEF 13) held in Istanbul, Turkey, from May 7 to 10 saw the Turkish industry announce a number of developments. The most notable was the revelation of three potential concepts for the TF-X national combat aircraft program, a stealthy aircraft that is ultimately expected to replace the F-16.
Pratt & Whitney F135
The U.S. military cleared the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to return to flight on Thursday, ending a week-long cautionary grounding that was ordered after an engine inspection revealed a cracked turbine blade on an F-35A test aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
The U.S. military grounded its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters after a routine engine inspection revealed a cracked turbine blade in an F-35A based at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The precautionary flight suspension was announced on February 22, following an inspection earlier in the week. The grounding affects all three variants of the fighter, for a total of 51 aircraft.
Flight operations of the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (Stovl) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter remained suspended this week as U.S. military and contractor engineering teams investigated the cause of an engine fueldraulic line failure in a test aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The fueldraulic line is part of the fuel-based hydraulic system that controls the actuators of the F-35B’s vectoring exhaust system. The grounding did not affect the F-35A and C models, respectively, the conventional takeoff and carrier variants.
Rolls-Royce has completed testing of the latest build of a research two-shaft engine core, known as “Core 3/2d,” as part of the E3E (efficiency, environment, economy) program. The core evaluation campaign ends without a previously planned endurance test, however. E3E technology forms the basis of Rolls-Royce’s Advance2 future two-shaft engine program, which targets entry into service in 2018.
Pratt & Whitney this week signed an agreement with Australia’s Broens Industries for the supply of support equipment that will be used at initial operating bases for the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter in the U.S.
Broens has designed a jack that allows the removal and maneuvering of the gearbox from under the F135 engine. The new contract is worth around $300,000 and follows a prototype award, while follow-on production contracts could reach a value of at least $7 million.
Production of Pratt & Whitney’s F135 engines that power Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter is set to peak this year at 50 units before flattening out in the coming years as the U.S. defers deliveries of the new aircraft.
Pratt & Whitney’s engines power a wide range of military aircraft in operation around the world, but 2011’s developments in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Lightning II program made the company’s year–especially as its F135 became the sole powerplant for all three Lockheed Martin JSF variants: the conventional F-35A, STOVL F-35B and carrier-based (CV) F-35C.
GE Aviation and Rolls-Royce ended their self-funded development of an alternative engine for the F-35, bowing to Pentagon opposition and looming, deep reductions in U.S. defense spending.