More on the F136 engine for the JSF

Navy, Air Force Maneuver To Save JSF Alternate Engine

The theory: The Navy and the Air Force claim that they cannot afford to continue developing the alternate engine for the F-35 and that it should be cancelled. But not to cancel the program. To get more money for it. At least, that’s what I’m reading this article to say.

In a move that echoes past budget maneuvering, the U.S. Navy says it can’t afford to keep developing an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The U.S. Air Force, staring at shouldering the $3.4 billion F136 engine program alone, at a cost of about $400 million per year, is expected to go along with the move. Air Force planners say it’s a better alternative than paying for it by delaying the F-35 program or cutting production totals of its conventional takeoff and landing variant of the aircraft. Veterans of many defense budget fights say it is a calculated move to draw lawmakers into adding money once the document gets to Capitol Hill.

As MO noted earlier, the Brits are keen on the F136, not only because Rolls-Royce is a major partner in the program, but because they want the engine, which is designed to be more powerful than the primary F135 engine, for their carrier operations.

And I didn’t know this:

The F135 and F136 are designed to be completed interchangeable, so any F-35 can accept either engine, with the aircraft computer management system automatically detecting the engine change and making the required software adjustments.

I was just talking with a friend about the potential for trouble with different variants of the same aircraft. But the JSF has “plug-and-play” engines, I guess. Cool.


  1. I’m all for a collaboration on this. In WWII RR provided a more powerful engine for our P-51 Mustangs, which made it the best of the best.

  2. Plug and play when it comes to F-35 engine types is the ultimate in feature creep. One simply doesn’t need that kind of flexibility that will be made just once in the entire lifetime of a particular plane, and indeed, in all likelihood, just once in the lifetime of the entire fleet of F-35s. And, that feature doesn’t come for free, I assure you. It would be like building Virginia class submarines with a plug and play ability to accept Soviet SLBMs, a cool but, useless and expensive feature.