Pratt & Whitney has placed orders with Rolls-Royce to produce and support LiftSystems for the US Marine Corps’ (USMC) F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter programme.
Under the $195.5m fifth production lot contract, Rolls-Royce will provide three complete LiftSystems, spares, sustainment, programme management, engineering and field support.
Dave Gordon, Rolls-Royce’s LiftSystem programme director, said: "Rolls-Royce remains focused on further increasing the affordability of LiftSystems for the F-35B Lightning II as the programme continues to grow and mature."
The LiftSystem features the Rolls-Royce LiftFan, driveshaft, three bearing swivel modules and two roll posts on the wings, to provide a stabilising downward thrust.
The two-stage counter-rotating fan, LiftFan, can generate more than 20,000lbf of thrust from a conventional gas turbine and produce the forward vertical lift while 3BSM swivelling jet pipe will provide the rear vertical lift, by redirecting the main engine thrust downward.
Designed and developed in collaboration with Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems, the Lockheed Martin-built F-35 JSF aircraft can perform take offs from smaller amphibious warfare vessels, as well as landings on improvised airstrips.
The aircraft is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney F135 afterburner turbofan engine and has combat radius and maximum range of 833km and 1,667km respectively.
Capable of flying at a maximum speed of 1,960km/h, the single-engine, fifth-generation F-35B fighter aircraft has been designed to replace the F/A-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier II fighter aircraft which are currently in service with the USMC.
Currently, about 35 Rolls-Royce LiftSystems are operational aboard the Lockheed Martin-built F-35B aircraft, while enabling short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) operations.
In addition to supporting process of F-35B aircraft initial operational capability in 2015, Rolls-Royce will support the USMC’s F-35B aircraft sea trials.
Image: a US Navy’s F-35B aircraft takes off from a aircraft carrier. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.