As global threats continue to emerge and evolve, the U.S. military and its allies must develop, procure, and field the technologies and capabilities our warfighters need to accomplish their most critical missions. Nowhere is that more evident than when it comes to the F-35.

Pratt & Whitney makes the F135 engine that powers the Joint Strike Fighter, and I’m happy to report that we’re making great progress on our Engine Core Upgrade, which will introduce next-generation technologies to the platform. This upgrade is going to not only enhance the engine’s durability and performance, it will also fully enable the F-35 for Block 4 capabilities and beyond.

We have delivered more than 1,200 F135 engines over the program’s life while currently maintaining full mission capability rates over 94%, and I sometimes get the question about why an engine upgrade is even necessary. Make no mistake, the current engine performs its mission, and it performs it very well. But the engine needs an upgrade to meet the increasing demands on the jet and ensure it can maintain these mission readiness levels for all F-35 users worldwide well into the future. Upgrades like this are very typical in fighter engine programs, and because it will work for all F-35 variants—A, B, and C models— it can be easily retrofittable on the flight line or in a depot.

The ease of this upgrade’s retrofittability is very important. The F135 production and sustainment networks established over the last two decades are the result of years of investment, competition, and collaboration among international partners. The interconnected nature of this global industrial base underscores how global partnerships and alliances are critical to the F-35 program. Plus, the current engine and its upgrade fall under the already-established export processes in place today, making this upgrade the fastest, best way to ensure the F-35 remains the most advanced fighter jet in the world.

Similarly, the F135 is the most advanced fighter engine in the world today, providing 40,000 pounds of thrust, an unmatched low-observable signature, and an adaptive full authority digital engine control system that together provide the performance operators need for mission success. While the Pratt & Whitney team is focused on ensuring the F-35 has the performance and durability it needs to execute its most demanding missions, our eyes are also on the future. Just as we evolved our F119 engine, which powers the F-22 Raptor, into the basis for our F135, we’re planning to evolve once again.

We are actively working on a new prototype for the Next Generation Adaptive Propulsion (NGAP) program, which will power the U.S. Air Force’s future Next Generation Air Dominance fighter. We’re calling our NGAP prototype XA103, and we are incredibly excited about the performance characteristics we’re seeing from this engine. It will deliver the advanced survivability, fuel efficiency, and robust power and thermal management capabilities the future NGAD fighter needs.

These performance characteristics are necessary to enable the required range, weapon and sensor capability, and persistence that future air dominance platforms will require. Together, these fifth and sixth generation fighters will ensure the U.S. and its global partners can maintain air superiority in future conflicts.