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Pratt & Whitney Gets $1 Billion Contract for More F-35 Engines

Engine-maker Pratt & Whitney on Monday received a $1 billion Pentagon contract for more engines to power the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The U.S. Defense Department awarded the company, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., with a $1.04 billion modification for a total of 67 F135 engines, according to the contract announcement.

That figure includes 42 engines for the U.S. military (28 F135-PW-100 conventional propulsion systems for the Air Force and four for the Navy, six F135-PW-600 jump-jet systems for the Marine Corps, three spare engines and one trainer propulsion system for the Air Force) and 25 engines for international customers (14 evenly split among both types of engines and 11 spare F135-PW-100 engines), the announcement states.

The vast majority of the work, which is part of the Lot 9 low-rate initial production, or LRIP, contract, will take place in East Hartford, Connecticut. Other locations include Indianapolis and Bristol, U.K. It's expected to be completed in September 2019.

Costs for both the F-35 aircraft made by Lockheed Martin Corp. and the F135 made by Pratt & Whitney declined 4.1 percent to $332 billion and by 5 percent to $60.7 billion, respectively, from previous forecasts due in part to “revised estimates,” according to budget figures recently released by the Defense Department. Overall, the program — the Pentagon’s most expensive acquisition effort — is now estimated to cost $379 billion for a total of 2,457 aircraft and engines.

The stealthy fifth-generation fighter, however, remains challenged by unresolved hardware and software issues and may not be ready for initial operational test and evaluation until mid-2018, a year later than planned. Even so, the Air Force is pushing to declare the aircraft ready to carry out initial combat operations — close air support, interdiction and suppression of enemy air defenses — between August and December of this year after the Marine Corps did so last year.

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