In the ten years since Pratt & Whitney delivered the first production version of its F135 engine, the F-35 fighter program for which it was intended has taken off. It is now clear the fighter will be flown not only by three U.S. military services, but over a dozen allies. None of that would have been possible without the F135 engine, the most powerful fighter engine ever built. Power, though, is far from being the whole story — F135 is also very reliable (with a 95% mission-capable rate) and easily maintainable (only six hand tools are needed for most repairs). It even has stealth features. So what Pratt & Whitney plans to do now is get the cost of production and sustainment so low that its government customer can’t imagine going elsewhere for fighter propulsion. It is already making steady progress towards superior affordability. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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