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Aero Engine, Space & Defense

IHI Starts Shipping F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Engine Components as Part of Drive to Bolster Reach in Global Defense Sector

IHI Corporation began shipping Stage 1 Integrally Bladed Rotors to Pratt & Whitney in the United States on April 26. A conventional rotor generally has a structure where a blade is attached to the circumference of a disk, whereas a Stage 1 Integrally Bladed Rotor (henceforth the Rotar) integrates the blades and disk by joining technology to improve precision and reduce weight. The Rotor is a component of the F135 turbofan engine installed on the F-35 joint strike fighter, which is operated in the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. The Rotors were manufactured at the Soma Aero-Engine Works in Fukushima Prefecture, this being the first time to be mass-produced for the global market.

F135 engine incorporating shipped components
F135 engine incorporating shipped components

The F135 features an advanced afterburning turbofan design; superior technology makes it the world’s most powerful fighter jet engine. 18 countries participate in the F-35 program.

IHI amassed extensive expertise in delivering new engines and manufacturing parts for the Air Self-Defense Force from 2017 through 2022. It drew on that experience in concluding an agreement with Pratt & Whitney in 2022 to participate in a new global engine parts manufacturing alliance. IHI thereafter prepared to launch production.

The high-value-added rotors employ the latest joining technology. Apart from Pratt & Whitney, only IHI has this manufacturing capability. This culminated in IHI securing manufacturing approval from the American company and initiating mass-produced shipments in April this year.

The recent shipment marked a milestone in IHI’s preparations to lift production capacity to secure a significant worldwide market share for its rotors. This new business complements a regional depot at the Mizuho Works in Tokyo that IHI opened in June 2023 to maintain F135 engines for countries operating the F-35.

IHI will keep collaborating with Pratt & Whitney to supply top-quality equipment and support countries which use F-35 as part of efforts to bolster its reach in the global defense sector.

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