New problems to F35 engine could impact sales

F35 engine F135 problems
USAF F-35A Demo Team.

Problems that continue to plague the F35's engine supply chain could weigh on Lockheed Martin's business. The American aerospace giant is currently competing to sell its stealth aircraft in Switzerland (Air 2030), and Finland (HX Fighter). The two programs offer a deal for 100 aircraft worth over $ 80 billion. In addition, the fifth-gen fighter is also being targeted by other nations such as Greece and the United Arab Emirates.

However, the latest misadventures could hinder its sales. The F-35 program is suffering from a shortage of the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine, and it may take months for the situation to improve, according to Defense News.

The media outlet reported that one of the main causes was "premature suffering of rotor blade coatings" in a "small number" of engine power modules. It involves further repair work that plagues the supply chain.

A defense official told Defense News that by 2022 about 5-6% of the F-35 fleet could run out of engines due to unscheduled maintenance and repair of the F135s. About 20% of aircraft could be affected by engine shortages if those corrections fail and no further action is taken.

Due to engine problems, the US Air Force cut eight performances from the F-35 Demo Team's 2021 schedule to not create additional workload for the maintenance team.

On the other hand, the F-35's contenders in European procurement are in good health and are more aggressive than ever. They include the Dassault Rafale, the Boeing Super Hornet, the Eurofighter and the Gripen (only in the HX).

Switzerland and Finland will choose the new aircraft by 2021, among the requirements of both is the high reliability of the aircraft and the F-35 could be penalized by the latest misfortunes. Switzerland, for example, is very intransigent on parameters, just think that it excluded the 'favorite' Gripen from the program as at the time of the evaluation tests the new 'E' variant was not yet operational.

Photo Credit: George Karavantos

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