In for the Long Burn

Pratt & Whitney is gearing up for ground tests later this year of a demonstrator engine featuring technology that would increase the performance of the company’s F135—the engine that powers the F-35 strike fighter, said Bennett Croswell, president of the company’s military engines sector. The XTE68/LF1 powerplant, developed under Air Force Research Lab sponsorship, has “an improved hot section” compared to the F135 that would provide “about a 5 percent increase” in thrust if applied to the F135, Croswell told the Daily Report during an interview in Paris earlier this month for the Paris Air Show. Currently, the F135 is capable of 43,000 pounds of maximum thrust. If F-35 operators do not need the additional power, they could apply the new technology “to get better fuel economy” from the F135 or improve the engine’s durability, he said. Building upon this work, the Navy is funding the company’s efforts to reduce the F-135’s rate of fuel burn by 5 percent, he said. These activities are examples of the technology-maturation projects in place to enhance the F135 over time, a similar model to how Pratt & Whitney continually improved the F100 over the years, said Croswell. (See also Propelled with Confidence.)