Pratt & Whitney has delivered the first production variant of a transport skid for the F135 power module via MV-22B Osprey aircraft to the United States Marine Corps, the company said in a statement.
The MV-22B vibration dampening protective skid offers the Marine Corps a vertical replenishment (VERTREP) option to transport replacement F135 power modules for their fifth generation F-35B Lightning II fighter aircraft aerially from shore to deployed ships at sea.
“The delivery of the first production variant of the transport skid to the Marine Corps is a significant milestone for the sustainment of the F-35B fleet,” said Ray Lindsay, senior director, F135 Sustainment, Pratt & Whitney Military Engines. “Having the capability to transport F135 power modules aerially while underway is a game changer.
It offers a replenishment and retrograde option that can reduce the need to load additional spare heavy engine modules onto amphibious assault ships or resupply them to austere locations, which can prove to be both difficult and dangerous.”
Pratt & Whitney collaborated with Bell Boeing to overcome the engineering and logistical obstacles of safely transporting the F135 power module, the largest and heaviest part of the F-35B’s engine at 4,500-pounds, using an MV-22B Osprey.
The specially designed protective skid allows the Marine Corps to transport the F135 power module aerially rather than having to spend millions of dollars to retrofit existing ships in order to be able to accommodate connected replenishment ship to ship options.
“The genesis of the transport skid system is a testament to the ability of the Pratt & Whitney team to go above and beyond to deliver innovative sustainment solutions to our customers,” added Lindsay. “Working closely with Naval Air Systems Command and the Marine Corps, we were able to design, develop, and validate a solution that fits their needs and enables the safe transfer of the module from shore to ship.”
By drawing upon its sustainment experience with a global fleet of F100 engines powering over 3,500 F-15 and F-16 aircraft, Pratt & Whitney is well positioned to support the rapidly growing number of fielded F-35s around the world with a focus on establishing F135 maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) centers and a global repair network to handle the increasing number of F-35 operating bases.
Under the existing Systems Development and Demonstration Contract with the F-35 Joint Program Office, Pratt & Whitney is scheduled to deliver two more transport skids to the Marine Corps later this year.
In addition, the United States Navy will also be able to utilize the transport skid to replenish and retrograde F-35C power modules during future deployments of its nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVN) as they begin to replace their existing Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) aircraft with CMV-22Bs in the coming years.