Pratt & Whitney will receive an additional $75 million for the F135 Engine Core Upgrade (ECU) effort, a $511.6-million project approved earlier this month by the Dept. of Defense. The additional funding was included in the FY 2023 omnibus appropriations bill approved by U.S. Congress on December 23.
The F135 is an afterburning turbofan power source for the F-35 single-engine, Joint Strike Fighter jets – in service with the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and dozens of allied defense forces. It is the most expensive defense program.
Over 800 F-35s have been supplied since 2006, and 375 more are anticipated now in the planning and production stages.
The DoD is planning an extensive update to all three variants of the F-35, called the Block 4 upgrade, most of which concern electronic hardware and software, toward adoption of dozens of new weapons systems. Before the Block 4 update can be implemented, the jets’ core processor and memory will be updated in an effort called Technology Refresh 3 (TR3.)
"If the services and our allies want Block 4 enabled F-35s before the end of the decade, the engine needs a core upgrade," stated Pratt & Whitney’s v.p. for F135 programs, Jen Latka.
According to Pratt & Whitney, the F135 engine core upgrade will be “the fastest, most cost-efficient, lowest-risk path to Block 4 capability for all global F-35 operators.” It calls the F135 ECU a “drop-in” project to improve the propulsion system for all three variants of the F135, in advance of the Block 4 program.