Pratt Seeks More Export Markets for F-35 Fighter Jet Engine

  • Engine maker expands maintenance hubs to support export push
  • Pratt aims to offset costs of U.S.’s most expensive fighter

Pratt & Whitney is looking to add 12 new customers for its engine for Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 attack plane to boost sales and offset the high cost of the Pentagon’s most expensive fighter-jet program.

Pratt is looking to replicate the success of the earlier F100 engine, which is used to power both F-15 and F-16 war planes and was sold to 23 nations, Bennett Croswell, president of military engines, said in an interview. The F-35, which will do a flyover at the Farnborough International Air Show near London this week as part of its European debut, has so far been sold to 11 countries.

Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 fighter jet manufactured in Texas.

Source: Lockheed Martin Corp.

The F135 engine, which is finishing its development stage this month, will meet all but a “handful” of the Pentagon’s 26,000 capability requirements, Croswell said.

Pratt, a unit of United Technologies Corp., is now looking to establish maintenance hubs in Turkey, Australia, Japan, Norway and the Netherlands to support export opportunities for the aircraft. Pratt is due to deliver 88 engines this year, more than twice last year’s tally, with production volumes again doubling in 2018. The target is to make between 180 to 200 engines a year by 2020.

For more coverage of the Farnborough International Air Show, click here.

The company is on target to meet Lockheed’s promise to reduce the jet’s price tag to $85 million by 2020 at the latest. An upgraded version of the engine, which will boost its thrust by 10 percent and increase fuel efficiency as much as 7 percent, will be available as early as 2023.

Pratt, which was awarded a $1.5 billion deal from the U.S. military last week covering 99 engines, is now preparing its proposal for a block of orders due in September. Approval will likely take 12 to 18 months, Croswell said.

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