United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney unit is chronically late delivering engines for the Pentagon’s costliest program, the F-35, raising questions about whether the company is ready for a surge to full-rate production scheduled for next year.
Pratt remains under a previously unreported “Corrective Action Request” from the Defense Contract Management Agency that cites “poor delivery performance” on its current batch of engines for the fighter jet, including for the most complicated version used by the Marine Corps and the U.K. for vertical takeoffs and landings.
The agency’s action is likely to be watched not only by the Pentagon and international buyers of the F-35 but also by shareholders and investors assessing United Technologies’ planned merger with Raytheon Co., which would fortify the combined company’s standing as one of the top U.S. defense contractors. The F-35 engines would be one of the new company’s top revenue producers.
The company, which is the sole supplier of engines for the fighter built by Lockheed Martin Corp., must demonstrate by year-end that it has delivered on promised improvements to solve the problems that led to the agency’s formal request in December, spokesman Mark Woodbury said in a statement outlining the issues.
The $428 billion F-35 program is scheduled for approval next year to enter full-rate production, the most lucrative phase of a weapons program for contractors. The decision is contingent on an assessment during the aircraft’s current round of intensive combat testing that it’s effective and can be maintained. (end of excerpt)
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