Rolls-Royce has completed the first lift fan for the Lockheed
Martin F-35B to be produced at a $13 million final assembly plant opened
17 months ago.
The London, UK-headquartered manufacturer was
due to deliver the first module – the 12th lift fan to be completed
overall – to Lockheed on 4 October.
The roughly 1,220kg (2,690lb)
lift fan activates in short take-off and vertical landing modes for the
F-35B, generating an output of 19,000lb-thrust (85kN).
The fan combines with a three-bearing swivel nozzle in the exhaust and twin roll posts.
overall system creates 40,700lb-thrust, allowing the F-35B to hover and
take-off from the US Marine Corps’ LHD-class amphibious carriers.
expects the new facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, to build 84 lift
fans each year – although expected commitments for the F-35B have fallen
in the last year, from about 520 to 400 orders.
The US Department of Defense also has frozen orders for the F-35B at six per year through 2013.
production freeze, in particular, has made it challenging for
Rolls-Royce to meet cost targets for the lift fan component, said Gregg
Pyers, the company’s lift fan programme director.
manufacturer has so far minimised changes to its production system.
Although the UK Royal Navy has dropped out of the programme, Rolls-Royce
has no plans to transfer work on lift fan components from the UK to
Indianapolis, Pyers added.