Texas Research Institute Austin, a small business partner of the Air Force Research Lab, is developing a new coating for the F-35 strike fighter designed to dramatically improve resistance to heat and degradation caused by abrasion, according to a release. “This is roughly a 2,000-percent improvement in the average time between coating failures and directly addresses a current F-35 need,” said AFRL Project Manager Maj. George Woodworth. Wear and tear on current coatings “causes an unscheduled maintenance burden to repair or strip and recoat the area,” he said. If undetected, abrasion can severely damage the underlying aircraft section, particularly if it is made up of composite materials, states the March 13 release. “We anticipate that the new material will provide … an estimated $14 million in lifecycle cost savings,” said Woodworth. The Austin, Texas-based company received a $1.3 million award to continue advancing the product for potential future use on the F-35 and other aircraft, according to AFRL.
The Pentagon awarded a contract worth over $2 billion for the next batch of F-35 engines to Pratt & Whitney on June 5. The deal for Lot 17 F135 engines, totaling $2.02 billion, is expected to be completed by December 2025.