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Honeywell cooling tech to support next-gen F-35 power systems

Honeywell has announced the successful demonstration of upgrades to the current cooling capacity of the F-35’s Power and Thermal Management System (PTMS) to 80kW.

Honeywell has announced the successful demonstration of upgrades to the current cooling capacity of the F-35’s Power and Thermal Management System (PTMS) to 80kW.

Honeywell has been the supplier of the F-35’s PTMS for the past two decades and will now be best-positioned to support future mission systems’ modernisation requirements.

With this significantly enhanced cooling capability, Honeywell now far exceeds the current 32kW cooling needs of the US military and its allied partners, like Australia, that will operate a fleet of 72 F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters.

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The successful demonstration meets the current airframe requirement in service for the F-35. The F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office (JPO) indicated in 2023 that more cooling power would be needed in the F-35 to support advanced avionics in future generations of aircraft.

Matt Milas, president, defence and space, Honeywell Aerospace Technologies, said, “Today, we have successfully demonstrated that we not only meet the F-35’s current operational needs, but we are ready to service future F-35 modernisation upgrades without the need for expensive changes to the aircraft for either forward-fit or retrofit scenarios.”

This has helped prove Honeywell can offer a low-risk and affordable solution that meets the JPO’s future needs all while utilising the existing supply base and sustainment network.

“By enabling F-35s to update cooling capacity within our existing PTMS architecture, we can now eliminate the risks that would otherwise come from qualifying and fielding a new system that would cost taxpayers billions of dollars without any additional benefit,” Milas added.

To demonstrate the 80kW cooling capability, Honeywell used a digital twin of the PTMS, which leveraged data from over 2,500 hours of performance testing in Honeywell’s test facility and more than 750,000 hours of in-flight experience.

Matt Schacht, vice-president, engineering, Honeywell Aerospace Technologies, added, “Honeywell’s PTMS is key to many aircraft systems integrated into the F-35 and any changes to the PTMS would affect other critical components of the aircraft.”

The digital twin incorporated low-risk advancements to heat exchangers and controls changes that further optimise system performance. These modest changes significantly increased cooling potential while simultaneously maintaining all existing critical interfaces with airplane thermal systems without the need for invasive redesigns or concurrency.

“We believe the lowest risk path forward for the F-35 is to maintain the existing architecture of the PTMS to preserve its many critical functions, while increasing cooling capacity for future generations of the aircraft," Schacht said.

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