F135 Completes First Supersonic Flight Successfully

November 28, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

United Technologies Corporation Pratt & Whitney enjoyed another successful demonstration of their F135 engine earlier this week. The engine was used to power an F-35 Lightning II in a supersonic flight battle-conditions simulation. The event marked the first occasion where the engine’s supersonic flight capabilities have been tested and it marks a significant milestone in the development of the engine.

The Pratt & Whitney F135 Engine helped to propel the F-35 Lightning II to a top speed of Mach 1.05 (680 mph), while the aircraft was loaded with a full internal compliment of the weapons it would have if it was in a fully armed, stealth configuration. The idea was to test the engine’s abilities if it were to be used in such a demanding situation. The aircraft was able to spend a total of eight full minutes in supersonic flight, making as many as four transitions through the sound barrier during the course of the test flight. The success of the flight demonstrates the capability and performance of the well-researched and developed F135 engine.

Bill Gostic, the vice president of Pratt & Whitney Engine Programs, said: “We are extremely pleased with the results of the successful first F135 supersonic flight. The engine performed exactly as expected, demonstrating the F135’s fifth generation propulsion technology.”

But testing for the Pratt & Whitney F135 Engine will not end there. Developers hope to eventually see their engine propel an aircraft at Mach 1.6 with a full weapons load on board. The F135 engine has already been successfully tested on a number of occasions this year, with its last major milestone being reached in June when it powered its first STOVL aircraft. In that instance, as many as 10 flight test engines were completed and 10 000 test hours were racked up. Thus far the F135 engine is the propulsion system of choice for the F-35 as it clearly meets the difficult demands and requirements that this aircraft places on an engine.

Clearly the engine is capable of meeting the diverse and powerful aircraft requirements that is has been developed for. Its reliability, efficiency and power will likely go a long way to making it the engine of choice for armed forces around the world.

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