US Funds Pratt & Whitney F135 Engine Upgrade

Pratt & Whitney has received full funding for the modernization of the F-35 Lightning II propulsion system.

The F135 Engine Core Upgrade (ECU) program was allocated $497 million in the US Fiscal 2024 Defense Appropriations Bill for the company’s detailed design of the new engine to be presented later this year.

Its production will utilize the same F135 global sustainment network and domestic workforce already in place, supporting more than 57,000 jobs.

Once completed, the ECU will be compatible with all three variants of the F-35, retrofittable, and available to all operators.

“This bill will allow Pratt & Whitney to deliver the current and future propulsion capabilities that will keep the United States and its allies on the cutting edge of fighter engine technology,” Pratt & Whitney Military Engines president Jill Albertelli said.

The new propulsion system is expected to be fielded in 2029.

The ECU Defined

Pratt & Whitney was awarded the initial design contract by the Department of Defense in 2022, which prioritized no disruptive changes and a cost-effective solution saving up to $40 billion in life cycle costs.

The company describes the F135 ECU as the “safest fighter engine ever produced,” as it is based on operational experience and built on the same architecture as the current fifth-generation propulsion.

It promises to build on the current engine’s 45,000-pound thrust, thermal management, and integrated control systems, all while utilizing a modular approach to make way for newer hardware and software.

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