F-35 engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney has successfully completed performance testing of its Fuel Burn Reduction Demonstrator Engine, allowing a Growth Option 1.0 upgrade configuration for the F135 engine.
Engine testing verified the upgrade can provide a 5 to 6 per cent fuel burn improvement and a 6 to 10 per cent thrust increase across the F-35 flight envelope.
We believe the options for increased thrust and fuel burn reduction improvements will translate directly into mission effectiveness
An F135 propulsion upgrade would enable future capability improvements associated with the F-35 weapon system's block upgrade program. Pratt & Whitney has been working through the US Navy-sponsored F135 Fuel Burn Reduction (FBR) and US Air Force-sponsored Component and Engine Structural Assessment Research (CAESAR) technology maturation programs to develop a suite of compressor and turbine technologies, which can be used to enhance the performance of the F135 engine by decreasing fuel burn, increasing thrust, and improving hot section durability.
"Based on the demonstrated improvements, we see a potential path forward with the Growth Option 1.0 configuration for the F135 engine that could benefit the global fleet of F-35s in the near term at low technical risk and low cost, should the program desire an upgraded engine in the future,” president Pratt & Whitney Military Engines Matthew Bromberg said.
“The performance benefits of increased thrust and reduced fuel burn will provide even greater capability with respect to combat mission radius, acceleration, and sustained turn rate, as well as enable improvements in powered lift thrust.”
The Growth Option 1.0 configuration is compatible with all three variants of the F-35 and limits hardware changes for the upgrade to just the F135 power module (compressor, combustor, turbine). Growth Option 1.0 hardware can also be seamlessly inserted into future production engines at a minimal increase in unit cost and no impact to delivery schedule.
Should the customer desire, the redesigned internal components of the power module could bring the same benefits to fielded F135 engines by performing a power module change. Internal hardware upgrades for fielded engines would be accomplished during routine engine overhauls.
The Growth Option 1.0 configuration is fully compatible with existing F135 global support sustainment infrastructure, mitigating significant investment in new facilities, processes, training or equipment.
“Pratt & Whitney has developed an affordable upgrade for the F135 engine that can be ready for follow on modernisation upgrades to the F-35 weapon system in the early 2020s,” Bromberg said. “As we look to future warfighter needs, we believe the options for increased thrust and fuel burn reduction improvements will translate directly into mission effectiveness.”