WASHINGTON – The chief of the F-35 joint program office expects engine-maker Pratt & Whitney’s work on the new B-21 bomber to reduce the cost of the next-generation fighter jet’s engine, the F135.
“Pratt & Whitney will learn a lot on the F135 program that will benefit the long-range strike program,” JPO Chief Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan told reporters after a Thursday event in Washington. “I would expect that the technologies that are used in long-range strike can either be used to help the F135 program or vice versa to help drive the cost for both of us down.”
Bogdan would not confirm whether the F-35 power plant is common with the B-21 engine core, but said Pratt’s work on Northrop Grumman’s B-21 will yield lessons learned that will benefit the F-35.
“I would expect that Pratt prices for the F135 on the F-35 ought to come down as a result of the work they are going to be doing on the long-range strike,” he said.
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announced earlier this month that the B-21 engine would be built by Pratt & Whitney at its facility in East Hartford, Connecticut. As Defense News reported in November, the decision not to go with GE Aviation for the B-21 engine reflects a departure from history, as GE builds the F118 that powers Northrop’s B-2 stealth bomber.
A Pratt spokesman also declined to confirm that the two airplanes will have a common engine.
"We do not plan to say one word more or one word less that what the Air Force has already said about the program. Pratt & Whitney is the engine provider for the B-21 bomber,” said Matthew Bates in a Thursday email.
The JPO and Pratt reached a “handshake” agreement on the ninth and tenth batches of F135 engines in January, a deal that will cover 66 and 101 engines, respectively.
Bogdan said he hopes to reach a similar handshake with Lockheed Martin for the ninth lot of F-35 jets by the end of March, and a tenth lot a month or two later. The combined ninth and tenth low rate initial production contracts are worth about $16 billion, he said.