Lockheed Martin executive vice president and general manager for the F-35 Tom Burbage is quick to remind the engine makers that their would-be thrust growth plans for the F135 and F136 will involve more than just improving turbo-machinery when it comes to the STOVL version. “You can grow the powerplant but that’s not good enough. You’ve also got to improve the capability of the shaft and the lift fan. It’s also got to be balanced through the rest of the lift system.” Aside from that Burbage doesn’t want to discuss anything that might distract development of the first STOVL. “Right now the JPO is focused on qualifying the baseline,” he says.
the F-35B lift system at the Farnborough air show. (Guy Norris)