Timeline of Pratt & Whitney F135 and GE Rolls-Royce F136 programs
1995: For reasons of commonality with the Pratt & Whitney (P&W) engine for the F-22, the P&W engine concept is used during the JSF aircraft down-select process. P&W becomes the uncontested primary JSF engine.
1996: Congress provides initial seed money to GE to study a competing engine. Rolls-Royce joins GE on the engine program
1997: Congress further funds GE/Rolls and directs the Pentagon to ensure a full development program is launched. Pentagon structures the GE/Rolls program to enter production four years after the P&W engine.
1998: First P&W CTOL and STOVL JSF119 engines fire up for first time.
1999: Pentagon introduces “plug and play” engine interchangeability, whereby the competing engines are designed to the same external dimensions for easy change out of engines. P&W JSF119 STOVL engine runs in afterburner for first time. JSF119 CTOL goes for initial altitude tests at AEDC.
2000: P&W JSF119 powered X-35A flies for first time, followed in December by X-35C. Successful “core” F136 engine test and fan rig tests.
2001: P&W awarded $4.8 billion full-scale development contract (SDD) for F135 engine. First flight of X-35B STOVL, later conducts first supersonic flight with vertical landing.
2002: GE/Rolls create a joint company, GE Rolls-Royce Fight Engine Team, to develop and produce the F136 engine.
2003: First P&W F135 engine goes to test.
2004: First GE-Rolls F136 full engine run.
2005: GE/Rolls awarded $2.4 billion full-scale development contract (SDD), with completion in 2013. First F135 flight test engine built.
2006-2009: Each year, the U.S. Department of Defense cancels the F136 program, citing budget constraints. Engine funding restored each year by Congressional (House and Senate) support.
2006: First flight of F135-powered F-35A (AA-1)
2007: F135 propulsion system damaged during deliberate hard stall of shaft-driven lift as part of STOVL flight release testing. Three months later LP turbine failure occurs on F135 ground test engine FX634 during powered-lift qualification.
2008: F135 flight test engine FTE06 suffers LP turbine blade failure during proof tests. First flight of F135-powered F-35B (BF-1), and first supersonic flight of F-35A (AF-1)
2009: First “production-configuration” F136 engine goes to test. F135 damaged due to worn bushings. F136 suffers damage after ingesting sensor in September and the following month another engine suffers turbine damage after ingesting loose bolt.
2010: First production F135 CTOL/CV engine delivered and ISR granted. A Congressional “Nunn-McCurdy Breach” of JSF program results from costs growing beyond 50% of plan. P&W’s development costs forecasted to grow to $7.3 billion. For the fifth year, the Department of Defense cancels the GE/Rolls program.
First F-35B STOVL hover and landing in March. In May, the full U.S. House of Representatives “authorized” to restore funding for the FY2011 budget. However, the FY2011 budget process was not completed during 2010, and moved into the next year.
First supersonic flight of F-35B STOVL in June, with first flight of F-35C (CF-1) in June. Six F136 development engines run, preparing for flight tests in 2011. First P&W-Rolls STOVL production propulsion system delivered and ISR granted.
2011: After the House approved an amendment that removed F136 funding from the 2011 continuing resolution, the F136 program was terminated by the Department of Defense. A self-funded F136 development effort was passed by the House Armed Services committee. However, continued uncertainty in the development and production schedules for the JSF Program led GE and Rolls-Royce to discontinue the self-funded effort in December.