Le Bourget, France Pratt & Whitney and its suppliers drove out 40 percent of the cost of the F135 engine between delivery of the first production-representative unit in 2009 and the end of 2012, and company President David Hess said here the company is committed to additional cost reductions. “Cost will continue to go down somewhere on the order of single digits,” said Hess during a press briefing on June 18, the second day of the 50th Paris Air Show. He said “the last step down was about 4 percent” for the current production lot, the fifth batch of low-rate engines for the F-35 strike fighter. “The rate of cost reduction is slowing a little bit,” he said, since F135 production rates will be flat for the next several years. However, “as you see volume start to ramp dramatically starting in 2016, we will continue to move down this cost-reduction curve,” he said. P&W is tracking on the cost-reduction plan that it provided to the Defense Department in 2009, said Hess. “We committed to the DOD that we are going to stay on that curve going forward,” he said.
Changes are coming this year for Airmen taking professional military education (PME) distance learning courses. Closer interactions with facilitators, a revised capstone course, and more feedback on test performance are meant to improve the overall experience for distance learning students, who often include members of the Air National Guard.