We’ve discussed several times how titanium and nickel are used in aeronautical parts in the B2 Bomber Blog and the Nickel Superalloys blog, only this time they have been used within an engine design that completely renews of it for a jet less than 3 years after it first came out in 2009!
Well, to give you a visual through a movie reference, if you have seen “True Lies” it looks very much like the engines on the jet that Arnold Schwarzenegger takes off in when he turns the engines straight down to lift straight up off the ground from the Florida keys when he finds out his daughter has been taken hostage. That’s right, these F135 engines have two shafts and three fans that allow the engine to go from a regular position on a jet to a turned down, 90 degree angle, causing the forward thrust to be pushed down and the plane to be pushed straight up off the ground far enough for the plane to take off with nearly no runway!
So how have they improved it?
The engine is made by team within Lockheed Martin consisting of members from Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce, and Hamilton Sundstrand, each making different primary parts of the whole engine. The engines are still being made the same with titanium and nickel parts, so New Source Corp was not needed this time, but Pratt & Whitney are pushing to improve the cost of the engine by nearly 3% through various improvements to their portion of making the engine. Areas like labor and development are primary targets for cost improvement. They also believe that they can extend the life of the engine by 50%, but critics say they will believe that when they see it. In the meantime, Lockheed is looking forward to putting the improved engines into their F-35’s, the plane built specifically for these engines, around 2014.