Rolls-Royce spokesman George McClaren said minor damage to some turbine blades was discovered during a routine inspection of the General Electric (GE)/Rolls-Royce F136 engine, the alternative propulsion system for the F-35.
The engine was 75 per cent through its test phase and had achieved three hours' non-stop maximum power when the problems were discovered during a scheduled testing shutdown. Rolls-Royce has determined the potential cause and is now working to confirm it, according to McClaren.
The F136 testing troubles came shortly after the US Congress adopted a compromise version of the Fiscal Year 2010 (FY10) defence authorisation bill on 8 October that includes USD560 million for F136 research, development and procurement.
US President Barack Obama's administration has threatened to veto the legislation if it includes funding for a second engine at the expense of F-35 fighter jet procurement.