Oklahoma is set to be the home of the sole facility capable of supporting Pratt & Whitney’s F135 Engine Core Upgrade. A groundbreaking event took place on June 2, 2023, marking the commencement of construction for Pratt & Whitney’s new facility. Spanning over 845,000 square feet, the Oklahoma facility is a significant $255 million investment from the company. It is designed to service military engines maintained at several locations, including Tinker Air Force Base. The range of aircraft supported includes the F-35, C-17, F-22, F-15, F-16, B-52, and E-3 AWACS.
Pratt & Whitney is launching an Engine Core Upgrade (ECU) for its F135 engine to provide a cost-efficient, flexible, and low-risk option to F-35 users, targeting Block 4 capabilities. According to Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma’s 4th congressional district, the Oklahoma City facility is the only one equipped to perform all F135 power module scope levels for the F-35. Hence, it makes sense to increase the facility’s capabilities as the military gears up to adopt the new F135 Engine Core Upgrade.
Jill Albertelli, the President of Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, mentioned that the company is expanding in Oklahoma City due to the surging demand for their newer products such as the F135 engine for the F-35 fighter. The engine is nearing its first scheduled maintenance cycle, and the company has experienced an uptick in operational tempo for other engine programs, all designed to protect US national security interests. The aim of this expansion is to make sure the company is prepared, in terms of manpower, processes, and infrastructure, to meet this increasing demand.
Pratt & Whitney has a long-standing presence in Oklahoma City, dating back to the 1940s. The Army initially set up a depot in the city for the C-47 Skytrain and its R-1830 Twin Wasp engines, signifying the company’s initial establishment in the region. Oklahoma City has since evolved into the core of Pratt & Whitney’s worldwide sustainment network and plays a vital role in many of the company’s significant military engine projects. In 2022, unprecedented production levels were reached by the F117, F119, and F135 Heavy Maintenance Centres, further highlighting the city’s crucial role in these initiatives.