Pratt & Whitney has shipped the first F135 engine produced at its new manufacturing plant in Florida, the 97,000-sq.ft. West Palm Beach Engine Center it built to support the military jet engine program. The engine was delivered to the F-35 Final Assembly Check Out operation at an Italian Air Force base in Cameri, Novara, Italy. Italy is a Level 2 partner with Lockheed Martin in the System Development and Demonstration phase of the F-35 stealth fighter program headed by Lockheed for the U.S. Department of Defense and several allied defense ministries.
The F135 is a turbofan engine developed by Pratt & Whitney for the F-35 Lightning II, the single-engine strike fighter. There are several variants of the F135 engine, and P&W emphasized the engines built at the new West Palm Beach operation are built to the same standards as engines produced at the original operation in Middletown, Connecticut.
Pratt & Whitney has testing and validating F135 development engines in West Palm Beach as part of the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) program for more than 14 years. The new assembly capability provides additional capacity as the F135 program increases production.
According to Eric Ross, general manager of the West Palm Beach Engine Center, "We broke ground on this facility in April of 2013, and began production of our first F135 in December. We not only started on time, but we also successfully met our target delivery date on the first engine to the Italian FACO."
The West Palm Beach location is one of several Pratt & Whitney operations gaining new capabilities and capacity. The engine builder has a series of projects in progress totaling more than $700 million of capital investments, for the F135 and other military and commercial jet engine programs. They include:
• Over $400 million to expand the company's East Hartford and Middletown, Conn., plants;
• $63 million project to expand the West Palm Beach, Fla., operations;
• $140 million to expand the Advanced Coating Technology center in Wallkill, New York; and,
• $110 million to build to build a 180,000-sq.ft. manufacturing plant in Singapore, following a new repair and engineering operation that opened there last December.
"This is a very exciting time for Pratt & Whitney," stated Danny Di Perna, senior vice president of Engineering & Operations. "Over the next few years we will significantly increase our engine production. While these investments will transform our global operations, more importantly, they will ensure we are prepared to deliver this increase in volume to our customers with the world-class quality they have come to expect."