Saft is developing advanced Li-ion battery technology for Lockheed Martin’s 5th Gen F-35 Lightning II. Recently, General Electric Aviation awarded Saft a $6.5-million contract for the F-35’s low rate initial production contract (LRIP) 6.
Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the US Air Force, the F/A-18 for the US Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the US Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least 10 other countries. As part of the contract, Saft will meet More Electric Aircraft (MEA) industry objectives that aim to optimize aircraft performance and reduce gas emissions.
Saft will produce an advanced high power battery that provides the back-up power for electro-mechanical actuation for the flight control surfaces. The battery will provide in-flight emergency backup power to the aircraft’s critical systems. Each ship set consists of one JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) 270V and one JSF 28V battery per aircraft.
The 270V battery has a capacity of 1750 Wh, and power of >36 kW @ -26 °C and 8.9kW @ -40 °C. The 28V battery has a capacity of 900 Wh, and power of 5.0 kW @ -26°C and 1.5kW @-40°C. Module electronics are by Saft; battery management is by GE.
In 2002 Saft America Inc. competed on the initial System Design and Development (SDD) Phase of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter Electrical Power Management System (EPMS). Saft was awarded contracts for the 28 V batteries that provide start-up power for the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) and the 270 V batteries that provide back-up power to operate the flight control surfaces.
The initial JSF 28 V Battery was derived from the successful F-22 Raptor Program, using Saft’s Aircraft Maintenance Free Battery (AMFB) nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) technology. The AMFB 28 V Battery carried the program successfully through the aircraft’s first flight in December 2006. To help reduce the aircraft weight Saft proposed a high power 28 V Li-ion battery, and this battery was used to fulfill the SDD phase of the program. The Li-ion deployment began in late 2004 and continues into the LRIP phases.
The 270V JSF Battery was specifically custom-designed and manufactured to meet the exacting needs of the JSF application. It is a very high power 270 V Li-ion battery that has fulfilled the needs of the aircraft beginning with the SDD phase and continuing into the LRIP phase.
Saft has been supplying batteries to GE Aviation since 2006. The solution is based on more than 15 years of Saft Li-ion research and technology. To date, the F-35 battery development program has logged more than 6,000 flight test hours.
Working on the F-35 program gives Saft the unique opportunity to advance the role of Li-ion solutions in state-of-the-art aircraft.—Thomas Alcide, General Manager of Saft’s Specialty Battery Group