The F-35 joint program office and engine maker Pratt & Whitney announced the award of a seventh low-rate initial production batch of F135 engines late Tuesday, a deal delayed by this summer’s grounding of the F-35 fleet after a June engine fire at Eglin AFB, Fla. The Defense Department awarded P&W a $592 million contract for 36 engines, as well as program management costs, engineering support, and spares. The contract also includes the company’s commitment to “cover the cost of corrective actions for previously delivered propulsion systems and modules to correct the third stage fan blade failure” in last summer’s mishap, according to the statement. The Pentagon and P&W added they anticipate a follow on LRIP Lot eight contract for 48 more engines to be finalized “in the near future.” Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the F-35 program director, said the engine maker has “kept their commitment to lower costs.” P&W F135 Vice President Chris Flynn added the firm is “laser-focused on reducing costs and meeting our delivery schedule.” The average engine price for all three variants was reduced by around 4.5 percent from the sixth LRIP lot to the seventh after negotiations, and officials project a similar savings for Lot 8, according to the statement.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.