Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of RTX, has been awarded a $66m contract modification for the F135 Engine Core Upgrade project, bringing the total secured funding for this engine modernisation effort to $180m.

The investment will support design engineering, program management, technology maturation, risk reduction, and weapons system integration. The decision to upgrade the F135 engine, as announced in President Biden’s 2024 budget proposal, aims to enhance the capabilities of the F-35 aircraft and ensure cost savings for global F-35 operators.

Expressing gratitude for the support received, Jen Latka, Vice President for the F135 program at Pratt & Whitney, said, “We’re extremely grateful for the ceaseless support we receive from the entire Connecticut delegation.

We’ll use this funding to make quick progress on our Engine Core Upgrade’s preliminary design efforts, and that will keep us on track to deliver this important capability starting in 2028.”

In March 2023, the US Air Force, US Marine Corps, and US Navy decided to upgrade the F135 engine instead of opting for a completely new engine for the F-35 aircraft. This choice was announced as part of President Biden’s 2024 budget proposal, emphasising the importance of modernising the engine to meet the requirements of an updated F-35 fleet.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, highlighted the significance of the additional funding, stating, “A modernised F-35 needs a modernised engine to support it.

The additional $66m for the F135 Engine Core Upgrade we’ve secured will help us maintain a skilled workforce in Connecticut and nationwide to deliver this much-needed capability. Upgrading the F135 is the right decision to support our national defence priorities and defence industrial base, and I’ll continue to ensure this program gets the support and funding it needs.”

The F135 Engine Core Upgrade (ECU) is considered the fastest, most cost-effective, and lowest-risk pathway to achieving Block 4 capability for all F-35 operators worldwide. It has been optimised for all three variants of the F-35 aircraft and is projected to generate $40bn in lifecycle cost savings by avoiding costly air vehicle changes and leveraging the existing global sustainment infrastructure.

On June 30, 2023, Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for the F-35 program, expressed their support for the F135 Engine Core Upgrade, reaffirming their commitment to assisting the US Government in implementing the engine modernisation program.

On June 2 2023, Pratt & Whitney opened their Oklahoma military engine facility, the only facility capable of supporting Pratt & Whitney’s Engine Core Upgrade to the F135 fifth-generation engine.

As the F135 Engine Core Upgrade project moves forward with increased funding, Pratt & Whitney and its partners aim to enhance the capabilities of the F-35 aircraft.