Ipswich-based TAE Aerospace has successfully completed the repair of its first Pratt & Whitney F135 engine fan module for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, which marks the first time depot maintenance has been completed on an F135 engine module outside of the US.
The Australian company was first assigned the Asia-Pacific region’s F135 maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade (MRO&U) depot responsibility in 2015.
Over the last five years, TAE Aerospace has been working closely with Pratt & Whitney, the F-35 Joint Program Office in the US, and the Australian government through the Joint Strike Fighter Division in Canberra to develop a world-class MRO&U facility, technical workforce and test facility that has the capacity and capability to sustain the F135 engine for the Royal Australian Air Force and other F-35 program participants in the region.
O Sung Kwon, vice president, Pratt & Whitney military engines sustainment operations, welcomed the milestone achievement, stating, "We congratulate TAE Aerospace for demonstrating the capability to repair and overhaul the F135 fan module.
"This represents a significant sustainment milestone for the F135 program and is a testament to the hard work of the joint government and industry team that made it happen. With a worldwide fleet of over 600 F135 engines that is expanding rapidly, we remain focused on standing up an effective global sustainment network that will support the F135 throughout its life cycle," Sung Kwon added.
Activity over the last 12 months has ramped up significantly at TAE Aerospace, with training commencing in mid-2019 and completion of a new 15,000 square metre Turbine Engine Maintenance Facility (TEMF) in December 2019.
The new state-of-the-art facility has been purpose-built for the F135 and the other engines – F404, F414 and AGT1500 – that TAE maintains today.
The completion of the first F135 fan module signifies that TAE Aerospace is one step closer to achieving initial depot capability and regularly delivering modules to the F-35 Global Support Solution (GSS).
Andrew Sanderson, TAE Aerospace CEO, said, "Completing the fan module is a great milestone and the start of a significant capability here in the Asia-Pacific region. We’re looking forward to working with Pratt & Whitney as part of the GSS to support the F135 engine for the Asia-Pacific’s regional F-35 fleets, including those flown by Australia, South Korea, Japan and the US forces within the region."
Pratt & Whitney’s combat-proven F135 – which powers all three variants of the F-35 Lightning II – is the world’s most advanced fighter engine, delivering more than 40,000 pounds of thrust and unmatched advances in safety, performance and reliability.
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The F135 features fifth-generation power and stealth capabilities as well as advanced prognostics and health management systems – all of which provide the warfighter with a technological advantage.
"The next step is completing qualification on the F135 power module in late 2020 and getting into full production at our new facility," Sanderson added.
TAE Aerospace is a privately-owned aerospace company headquartered in Australia. It has operations throughout Asia-Pacific and North America and a global customer base.
The company focuses on creating value for its customers in the commercial aviation and Defence markets through quality products and services in turbine engine and component MRO, aerospace engineering and advanced manufacturing.