The Department of Energy’s Ames Lab, in Ames, Iowa, is working on a new high-strength aluminum alloy that could enable the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to fly “farther and faster,” says lab officials. Researchers plan to produce about 400 pounds of the aluminum-yttrium-nickel alloy, for use in the JSF engine, over the next few months for testing. If the material performs well, it could dramatically impact the performance and efficiency of the JSF and other aircraft by greatly reducing aircraft weight, which was a particular problem for the short takeoff and landing variant of the F-35. Ames researcher Larry Jones said that Pratt & Whitney engineers estimated that replacing several components in one jet engine with the new alloy could reduce the engine’s weight by up to 350 pounds.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.