StandardAero announced today that it has successfully achieved all Initial Depot Capability (IDC) requirements for the repair and overhaul of the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine, which powers all three variants of the 5th Generation F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft. With this achievement, StandardAero’s F135 Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul and Upgrade (MRO&U) facility, or depot, in the Netherlands becomes the first fully operational F135 engine depot outside of the United States.
The IDC milestone was reached following the qualification of StandardAero’s assembly and disassembly capability for the F135’s fan and power modules as well as engine test operations at its state-of-the-art 30,000 square foot facility in the Netherlands, located at the Logistics Center Woensdrecht (LCW) of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. This facility features the first purpose-built international test cell for the F135 engine that was designed and constructed from the ground up to support F135 aftermarket test operations.
“Since our acquisition of DutchAero Services in March of 2015, we have been purposefully driving toward standing up our capabilities at LCW and operationalizing our F135 engine MRO services,” said Marc Drobny, President of Military & Energy for StandardAero. “We are proud to achieve the IDC milestone status and grateful for the collaborative efforts of all of our partners.”
The U.S. Department of Defense selected the Netherlands as one of the F135 MRO&U European regional depots in late 2014. Since that time, the Netherlands Ministry of Defence, the F-35 Joint Program Office, StandardAero, and Pratt & Whitney have worked collaboratively over the past six years to standup this regional MRO&U capability which will support the Royal Netherlands Air Force as well as other F-35 operators in the region under the F-35’s Global Support System.
“Congratulations to the joint industry and government team on achieving IDC for the Netherlands F135 depot,” said O Sung Kwon, Vice President, Pratt & Whitney Military Engines Sustainment Operations. “This critical sustainment milestone is the culmination of years of planning, construction, deployments, training and qualification. I’m exceptionally proud of how this team navigated the various challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic to standup this F135 MRO&U capability on-time for the customer.”
With the declaration of IDC, the Netherlands depot will immediately begin supporting fan and power module repairs for the F135 engine fleet, providing increased capacity to the global F135 MRO&U network. Modules will be disassembled, repaired, and reassembled by StandardAero personnel with technical assistance from Pratt & Whitney, followed by testing and return-to-service of the module for use by global operators of the F135 engine.
“This is a significant event for the Netherlands, for our industrial partners StandardAero and Pratt & Whitney and for the F-35 partnership”, according to Air Commodore Richard Laurijssen, commander of the Logistic Center Woensdrecht. “The fact that this capability now comes online must be very welcome, given the increasing demand for repairs of F135 engine modules the F-35 partnership is currently facing in order to meet the required availability of serviceable F135 engines. The Netherlands team is more than ready to support the growing demand of the F-35 fleet. Hitting this milestone was only possible because of the strong partnership between Pratt & Whitney, StandardAero and the Royal Netherlands Air Force and the supervision of the F-35 Joint Program Office. As a team, these four parties stood tall to overcome the issues and setbacks that came up along the way. I’d like to pass on my compliments to all involved in supporting this remarkable achievement and specifically I’d like to say thank you to the on-site crew members who have worked days and many nights to get to this point.”
This F135 MRO&U capability brings significant benefits to the Dutch workforce and industry, from high quality jobs to the technical expertise and know-how gained from the maintenance and repair of the most advanced fighter engine in the world.
“The dedicated and highly skilled team at LCW stands ready to provide the global F-35 fleet with world-class engine maintenance and mission readiness, and we look forward to a long, successful and productive future,” Drobny concluded.
“For decades, StandardAero has been an excellent provider of MRO&U services across both our military and commercial franchises,” added Kwon. “This includes more than 40 years of experience on our F100 engine, with over 3,000 overhauls. We are proud to expand on this partnership with the F135 engine, which will power the F-35 fighter for the next 50 years.”
The 5th Generation F135 is the most advanced and most powerful fighter engine in the world, featuring a host of performance attributes that deliver a step change in capability over 4th Generation engines. This includes 40,000+ pounds of thrust; a 50 percent increase in thermal management capacity enabling the full spectrum of F-35 weapons and sensor capabilities; a precise and responsive integrated engine control system allowing the pilot to focus squarely on the mission; and an unmatched low observable signature enabling the F-35 to conduct operations in modern Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2AD) environments.
Additionally, the F135 is the most dependable fighter engine Pratt & Whitney has ever built in its 96-year history. With its advanced damage tolerant design and fully integrated prognostic health monitoring, the current F135 production engine has demonstrated a Mean Flight Hours Between Removal (MFHBR), which is the primary metric for reliability, that is more than two times the program objective.