Representatives from the U.S. Navy's Air Warfare Division (N98) visited Pratt & Whitney's Middletown, Connecticut, facility on March 22 for meetings with Military Engines senior leadership and a tour of the Engine Center that included the chance to see firsthand what it takes to build the F135 engine that powers the F-35C carrier variant.
"Not only is it exciting to see how the engines are produced and tested, but it is incredibly meaningful for us to have the opportunity to meet the individuals behind them," said Rear Adm. DeWolfe H. Miller III, director, Air Warfare (N98).
As part of the tour, Miller and other members from the N98 contingent spent a portion of the afternoon walking different areas of the assembly line, interacting with employees, and getting the chance to see an F135 engine come to life. Among the tour highlights was viewing the joining of an F135 power module and nozzle in real time, as well as a view of the engine test area.
The tour also included a stop at the Engine Center development assembly area where the group observed an F135 engine undergoing modifications for a Navy-sponsored F135 Fuel Burn Reduction technology maturation program. While current production engines meet propulsion system requirements, Pratt & Whitney is developing technologies that can increase thrust, fuel efficiency and engine durability for future block upgrades planned for the F-35 weapon system. Pratt & Whitney expects to test the engine with Fuel Burn Reduction-related improvements in the April-May timeframe.
"Our employees take great pride in building the F135 engine that provides unparalleled capability to the warfighter," said Jim Maser, vice president of the F135 Program. "We remain committed to supporting the U.S. Navy as it works toward the initial operational capability (IOC) milestone for the F-35C and beyond."
The U.S. Navy is set to declare IOC for the F-35C by August 2018. The current program of record for the Department of the Navy (USN/USMC) is for the procurement of at least 680 F-35C and F-35B aircraft.