Lockheed backs a next-generation F-35 engine, prompting a reprimand from Pratt

Lockheed Martin has publicly supported a new next-generation engine for the F-35 fighter jet, breaking with the Pentagon's move to upgrade the fighter's current Pratt & Whitney-made engines. Executive vice president for Aeronautics Greg Ulmer argued that the company supports the Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP) for the F-35 fighter jet. 


He stated that an AETP engine would provide greater power and cooling capabilities that would carry the F-35 beyond upcoming Block 4 upgrades. Lockheed Martin said it stands ready to support and continue working with the U.S. government on capability and performance upgrades that best support their requirements for the F-35 for decades to come, including an engine upgrade. Pratt & Whitney criticized Ulmer's statement, stating that the Pentagon's budgetary decision to back the Engine Core Upgrade, the company's plan to modernize the fighter's current F135 engines, is undermined.


The F-35 is expected to fly until 2070, and further upgrades are required for the decades to come to stay ahead of emerging threats. Both General Electric Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney are developing their own AETP engines, with GE's XA100 and Pratt's XA101. 


The Air Force was intrigued by the increased power and cooling abilities an adaptive engine would bring to its F-35As over an upgrade to the existing F135 engine. The Pentagon decided the cost of funding both engine options would be too great and announced a decision to go with the Engine Core Upgrade in the fiscal 2024 budget proposal.

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