Hard-fought military engine market is still facing funding questions
The heavy-fighter engine market continues to be dominated by Pratt & Whitney and . The production of F100s and F110s remains active for and orders, primarily exports.
When these fighters end production around 2016-17, work will switch to assembly of modules to support the large world fleet.
Pratt & Whitney'sdevelopment program for the was bolstered in early January when it won a U.S. contract worth up to $1.12 billion for low-rate initial production (LRIP) 5. The award includes the supply of 30 engines, spare parts, program management and engineering support for F135 manufacturing, sustainment and field support.
Pratt is currently delivering engines under a $1.13 billion LRIP 4 contract awarded last May and, along with the F135s ordered under LRIP 5, expects to deliver up to 50 units in 2012. As a result of an aggressive cost-reduction plan, Pratt reports LRIP 4 CTOL (conventional takeoff and landing) engines will be 15% cheaper than the LRIP 3 equivalent.
General Electric andwere developing the under the alternative engine program, but received a stop-work order from the Defense Department after lawmakers removed F136 funding for fiscal 2011. In December 2011, GE and Rolls terminated the F136 program.
The Eurojetcontinues in production for its single application, the . Of the three planned production batches, the first two cover the first 384 aircraft; Tranche 1 production ended in 2008 and Tranche 2 will continue into 2013. Tranche 3 has been split into A and B groups, with the 3A units accounting for 112 aircraft. The question is what will happen with Tranche 3B, as defense budgets in the four partner countries—Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K.—are under pressure and a reduction in purchases may be inevitable. Production of 3A aircraft is scheduled to be completed in 2016-17.
NPO Saturn's military engine division produces the AL-31 and AL-55 for military trainers and fighters. Saturn's biggest customer is Sukhoi, whose Su-27 series fighters will account for 789 engines produced over the next 10 years. The AL-31F powers the Su-27, Su-30, Su-33 and Su-34, while the newer thrust-vectoring 117S powers the Su-35. Sales of the Su-27 series have been strong, with India buying 272 Su-30s. Indonesia has voiced interest in the acquisition of 180 Sukhoi fighters by 2024. Algeria and Vietnam have also purchased the Su-30, with deliveries pending, while Venezuela has shown interest in the Su-35.
Russia has the largest Su-27 fleet, and awarded Sukhoi three contracts for a total of 64 fighters; 12 will be new variants converted from existing aircraft, while the rest will be new-builds. An additional 34 Su-34s were purchased in a 2008 contract, and the Russian air force reportedly plans on a fleet of nearly 200 of the type.
General Electric's F404 and F414 continue in production for both light and heavy attack aircraft and trainers. The latest applications for the F404 include thetrainer and its ground attack fighter variant, the A-50. A light fighter version, the FA-50, is under development to replace South Korea's F-5s and A-37s, with initial deliveries beginning in 2013. The T-50 is being marketed to the U.S. Air Force through as a T-38 replacement.
Production of the Rolls-RoyceAdour continues for the Hawk trainer. India is the only current buyer for the Hawk, and in July 2010 extended its agreement with BAE to have more aircraft built in-house by . As an older program, the Hawk faces a strong challenge from newer trainers such as the and Yakovlev Yak-130.
BAE is promoting the Hawk for the nine-nation Advanced European Jet Pilot Training program under European Defense Agency direction. The AEJPT could account for up to 120 aircraft. BAE is also set to offer the Hawk to the U.S. Air Force for its T-X advanced trainer program to replace the T-38s.
With William Alibrandi/Forecast International/www.forecastinternational.com