Beginning in August (before F135 production of the LRIP 10 batch is totally complete), Pratt & Whitney will begin assembling the 135 F135s the F-35 Joint Program Office has ordered for LRIP 11. The company should complete LRIP 11 production during 2019. The contract covers engines for a total of 110 F-35A Conventional Take-Off and Landing and F-35C Carrier Variant versions of the Lightning II, plus 25 engines (and their associated Rolls-Royce LiftSystems) for the F-35B Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing version of the aircraft.
Bromberg noted the unit recurring flyaway (URF) price for the 110 F-35A and F-35C engines will be 0.34% less than the negotiated LRIP 10 URF price, while the LRIP 11 URF price for the 25 F-35B engines will be 3.39% lower than the LRIP 10 URF price. He added: “To date we have taken 52% of the F135 production cost down and we’re targeting [another] 18% reduction as the [production] learning curve stabilises out. We’re also focusing on sustainment [i.e., spares support and MRO] cost reduction – we’re targeting a 50% reduction. We’re offering fifthgeneration performance for fourthgeneration cost.”
With the LRIP 11 engine batch, Pratt & Whitney is continuing to ramp up F135 production, planning to complete 110 engines (plus or minus five) this year compared to about 75 engines in 2017. Bromberg confirmed that, although production of the LRIP 11 batch will start in August, the eighth month of the year, P&W will assemble more engines from LRIP 11 this year than LRIP 10. By the end of the summer, the company will have built 400 F135s in total. Beyond 2018, and depending on the sizes of future F-35 and associated F135 production awards, P&W plans to continue to increase the F135 production rate by about 20 engines a year until it reaches its planned final, full-rate production of 180 engines per year – a rate which it appears Pratt & Whitney could reach by 2022, perhaps even 2021. Chris Kjelgaard