Northrop-Grumman and Pratt & Whitney have announced consecutively important news
on F-35's engine and radar development. The F135 STOVL engine has demonstrated
hover thrust and the APG-81 radar has began range-testing.
Pratt & Whitney F135 Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing engine for the F-35
Joint Strike Fighter demonstrated 39,700 pounds of thrust, the level required
for the F-35 to hover. In addition, the engine weight has been reduced staying
below the contracted target figure.
The engine weight and hover thrust are critical magnitudes for the F-35 STOVL
specifications that will enable the F-35B to operate from British small aircraft
carriers and unpaved runways, closed areas for the US Marine Corps and US Air
According to Pratt & Whitney, an on-going weight management plan will result in
a STOVL weight at 3% to 6% below the contracted target. The F135 propulsion
system team consists of Pratt & Whitney, Hamilton Sundstrand and Rolls Royce.
This propulsion system evolved from the F119 engine powering the US Air Force
Northrop-Grumman has begun the rooftop integration range-testing of the F-35's
fire control radar system, called the AN/APG-81. The fire control system
features an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) which enables
near-simultaneous performance of multiple radar functions.
An AESA radar system moves the radar's beam electronically instead of
mechanically using moving parts. This characteristic makes an AESA quicker
finding targets or performing another duties and more reliable than legacy radar
The rooftop integration range-testing phase will be carried out during the next
six to eight months. Afterwards, the APG-81 will enter air and surface modes
flight testing onboard a BAC 1-11 testbed aircraft. In late 2005, the first
APG-81 radar is expected to be delivered to Lockheed Martin's Mission System
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