Collins Aerospace Reveals New Cooling System For Future F-35 Upgrades

U.S. Air Force F-35 at the Paris Air Show

A U.S. Air Force F-35 at the Paris Air Show.

Credit: Mark Wagner/Aviation Images

LE BOURGET—Collins Aerospace’s Enhanced Power and Cooling System (EPACS) could provide more than 2.5 times the cooling power of the F-35’s current system, a capability the company says could solve the jet’s cooling issues for the life of the system.

Collins has developed the EPACS to add to the Lockheed Martin stealth fighter, which will require large increases in both power and cooling for upcoming Block 4 upgrades. The F-35 Joint Program Office this fall is expected to determine a new cooling requirement.

The North Carolina-headquartered company says its EPACS will achieve Technology Readiness Level 6 this year and be ready to become an Engineering and Manufacturing Development program as early as 2024. This schedule could make the EPACS development coincide with the delivery of Pratt & Whitney’s F135 Engine Core Upgrade, which the U.S. Air Force has selected for the fleet.

Henry Brooks, Collins’ president of power and controls, says the company conducted laboratory tests of the prospective system to push it as far as it could. Brooks says the goal is to “create a system that will solve the F-35’s issues for the life of the actual platform itself," adding, "we believe we have the system.”

Exactly how much cooling the jet will need in the long term is unclear. The U.S. Government Accountability Office, in a report released in late May, states that the F-35 program has yet to determine power and cooling requirements beyond 2035.

The EPACS includes an air cycle system, electric power generator and controller from Collins, along with an auxiliary power unit from Pratt & Whitney. Both Collins and Pratt & Whitney are subsidiaries of Raytheon Technologies.

Brian Everstine

Brian Everstine is the Pentagon Editor for Aviation Week, based in Washington, D.C. Before joining Aviation Week in August 2021, he covered the Pentagon for Air Force Magazine. Brian began covering defense aviation in 2011 as a reporter for Military Times.