FARNBOROUGH, England — Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce are teaming up to sustain the engines and lift systems of UK F-35B aircraft based at RAF Marham, the companies said Monday.
Pratt, which produces the F135 engine that powers the jet, and Rolls-Royce, which manufactures the lift system, announced at Farnborough International Airshow that the companies had recently signed a memorandum of understanding.
Under the agreement, each vendor will primarily be responsible for implementing a performance-based logistics approach to sustaining their own products.
Rolls-Royce will also take on some additional work for the F135, including lending some of its UK-based infrastructure to support the engine, said Bennett Croswell, president of the Connecticut-based Pratt & Whitney Military Engines.
"Today, at RAF Marham, where the first F-35 jets for the Royal Air Force are going to be based, Rolls-Royce already has people," he said in a Sunday interview with Defense News. "They have a product support center in Bristol. There's no reason for us to replicate all that when our partner, Rolls, has that capability."
Both companies expect to see some savings as a result of the agreement.
"This new agreement demonstrates the commitment from both companies to keep the customer at the heart of what we do, focusing on meeting their needs in the most cost-effective and efficient manner possible," Chris Cholerton, Rolls-Royce president of defense aerospace, said in a statement.
The exact amount of savings will be subject to negotiations on future contracts, Crowell said, but there are many areas where expenses related to can be reduced because Pratt & Whitney will not have to relocate employees or build new warehouses.
"When we put a field service rep in another country, there are costs associated with that," he said. "So if you bring an expat in, then that's part of the contract. If we don't have to bring an expat in, and use a Rolls-Royce employee, we can save the government some money."
The companies will establish the workshare over time, but the hope is to use as much Rolls-Royce infrastructure as possible, he said.
The Royal Air Force plans to declare initial operational capability in 2018, with the first F-35B planes stationed at Marham. The UK plans to purchase 138 aircraft.
Although the agreement only covers the F-35Bs at Marham, Croswell is open to broadening the agreement to include other variants or bases, such as the 54 US F-35As expected to move to RAF Lakenheath in the early 2020s.
"At the end of the day the US is going to have F135 engine and F-35s in the UK. So I can see our work with Rolls-Royce to expand those engines as well," he said. "Right now we're focused on the UK's jets, but it's going to evolve over time."