Pratt & Whitney announced this week an expected price drop of 7 to 8 percent with its Pentagon contracts for their next two batches of F-35 Lightning II engines. They further announced that a fix for the engine issues that temporarily grounded the fighter jet fleet earlier this year should be in place for some test aircraft by the end of 2014.
Bennett Croswell, president of Pratt’s military engines division, told reporters the company had already more than halved the cost of its F-35 engine, and the savings from the next two contracts – for the seventh and eighth batches of engines – would come on top of that.
Croswell, speaking at the annual Air Force Association conference, said Pratt had essentially reached agreement with the Pentagon on the next low-rate production contracts, which will be worth over $1 billion.
He said Pratt expected that by the end of the month it would be able to validate the root cause of an engine failure that grounded the entire F-35 fleet for several weeks this summer.
He said 20-odd test F-35 aircraft should then be modified with a fix for the engine issue by the end of the year.
Also at the conference, the Pentagon’s F-35 chief Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan reported that while the engine issue had caused a development delay of 30-45 days, he still anticipated the first combat F-35s to be in use by the Marine Corps by mid-2015.