Pratt Declares Successful F135 “Hot” Testing

Le Bourget, France Pratt and Whitney’s vice president in charge of the company’s F135 engine program, the power plant of the F-35 strike fighter, said the company has successfully completed an accelerated mission testing program at Arnold AFB, Tenn., without having to conduct turbine maintenance during the August 2014 to May 2015 test run. Mark Buongiorno, P&W vice president for the F135, told reporters at the Paris Air Show the “full hot section life” testing regimen took a production engine from the program’s sixth lot, with no modifications, and put it through the Arnold Engineering Development Center test facility, running 5,200 “total accumulated cycles”—a regimen of throttle movements to simulate stresses on the fatigue sensitive hardware of the engine that roughly duplicated the effect of 1,174 F-35 missions on the power plant, or seven to 10 years of operations. The data collected from the testing will help the company identify improvements to maximize readiness and life cycle projections for the F-35A fleet, he added. Significantly, an off-the-production-line engine needed no maintenance to its turbo machinery during the entire test, said Buongiorno. “It aligns with what we’re feeling, that the configuration is maturing the way we would like to see it” as it moves out of systems demonstration and development and into expanded production. As of June 12, P&W has delivered 228 F135 engines, and is working to expand production to keep up with the ramping up of the F-35 line.