Small But Powerful: The TJ-150
Small engine. Big power.
When Bashar Eid moved from building the PurePower PW1100G-JM engine to the TJ-150, he was surprised.
"It's pretty loud, pretty loud. It's pretty cool to see one of those things run. It was a huge transition going from the biggest engine that we build here – the NEO – to the TJ-150," said Eid, an assembly mechanic in West Palm Beach, Florida. "I didn't know what to expect, I didn't know the size requirements or what's used in that engine."
The TJ-150 is a high-performance, single rotor, high-compression one-stage turbojet engine powering missiles. The engine is built in relatively short order, has minimal parts and has proven reliability. Built in the West Palm Beach Engine Center, the application differs greatly from Pratt & Whitney's other engine programs
"It's a one-way vehicle, right? It doesn't have a logistics system, depot, spares or repair to it, so it demands a high reliability right out of the chute," said Daniel Usiadek, associate director of the TJ-150 program.
The engine currently powers Raytheon Missile Systems' Miniature Air Launched Decoy or "MALD" decoy missile. Simply put, it looks like allied aircraft on enemy air defense systems allowing planes like the Pratt & Whitney-powered F-35 to destroy specified targets. Another engine model, the TJ-150-3, is currently in development to power the MBDA Missile Systems' Selectable Precision Effects at Range, or SPEAR, missile, a precision strike weapons system.
"For the MALD application, absolutely, it's a lot of throttle jockeying and maneuvers because it's assimilating the aircraft itself. For a strike or other application, maneuverability is king just for being detected or not," Usiadek said.
One hundred-fifty pounds of thrust can be built on a standard workbench. And it may be cliché to say, but in this case, it holds. Bashar Eid knows it too – good things can come in small packages.
"You don't expect that much power," he said, "and so much technology in an engine that size."