Pratt Responds on F135 Quality

Pratt & Whitney, maker of the F135 engine that powers the new F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, acknowledged last week that this propulsion system has experienced “some cost growth and production issues.” But in its release July 30, the company said such issues are “consistent” with new engine programs at this stage of development and as the transition is made to production. “We are confident that we are on the right path to continue to deliver a successful product for the F-35 program and realize the benefits of a learned-out manufacturing process in the near future,” the company said. Last week, Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Brig. Gen. David Heinz, F-35 program executive officer, was quoted as being displeased with programmatic cost increases due to the higher than desired percentage of F135 parts reportedly failing to meet quality standards. Heinz said only about half of some components were meeting quality standards, when the goal is for 80 percent to be accepted. Pratt said it is performing “at 70 to 80 percent yield” for some components and will improve this yield as the production process matures. It said many components are already “being manufactured at much better yields.” The company also noted that there have been “absolutely no product quality issues” with fielded F135 engines, and engines delivered for flight testing “have performed without issue.”