As the political debate heats up again over the engines for the F-35 strike fighter, Pratt & Whitney, maker of the F135, the current powerplant, says things are heating up at its end, too, but in a good way. On Feb. 2, the company announced that it has delivered the first production-version F135 engine for the F-35. Pratt said this milestone is a “clear demonstration of the maturity of the F135,” which has accrued more than 13,000 hours in tests thus far. The General Electric-Rolls Royce team developing the F136 engine is continuing to battle for the rights to supply the propulsion systems for thousands of future F-35s. The Pentagon wants to terminate F136 work, saying it has sufficient confidence in the F135 design and it doesn’t have the funds to build two engine types. (For more, read Counterpoint.)
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.