By Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp, said its contracts with the Pentagon for the next two batches of engines for the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jet will result in combined cost savings of 7 percent to 8 percent.
Bennett Croswell, president of Pratt’s military engines division, told reporters the company had already more than halved the cost of its F-35 engine, and the savings from the next two contracts - for the seventh and eighth batches of engines - would come on top of that.
Croswell, speaking at the annual Air Force Association conference, said Pratt had essentially reached agreement with the Pentagon on the next low-rate production contracts, which will be worth over $1 billion.
He said Pratt expected that by the end of the month it would be able to validate the root cause of an engine failure that grounded the entire F-35 fleet for several weeks this summer.
He said 20-odd test F-35 aircraft should then be modified with a fix for the engine issue by the end of the year.
Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan said the Pentagon was looking at six possible solutions for solving the engine issue, which was caused by excessive rubbing of a component against an adjacent seal in the fan section of the engine.
He said the engine failure had caused a delay of 30 to 45 days in the development program, but he still believed the Marine Corps would be able to start using its jets in combat by mid-July 2015, as planned, since the program had included some flexibility in its schedule plan. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Ken Wills)