F-136 Completes High-Altitude Tests:

The General Electric and Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team has completed high-altitude afterburner testing of the F136 powerplant at the Air Force’s Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tennessee. “All test objectives were reached as planned,” the team said in a March 20 release. The F136 is the competing engine to Pratt & Whitney’s F135 for the F-35 stealth fighter. It has survived the past two years on Congressional add-on appropriations after the Pentagon opted not to fund it due to more pressing priorities. The same scenario is likely playing out for Fiscal 2009, with the Office of the Secretary of Defense earmarking no money for the F136 next fiscal year, but senior members of Congressional oversight panels express support for maintaining it. Even the Air Force’s leadership has come out in favor personally of keeping the F136 program alive. GE and Rolls Royce said they have more than 600 hours of test time with the two pre-system development and demonstration engines built to date. The GE-RR industry team expects to begin testing the first full SDD engine by early 2009, with first flight in the F-35 slated to occur in 2010.