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On the same day that Pratt & Whitney announced the GatorWorks prototyping arm, the company also announced a new upgrade for the F135 engine, which powers the fifth generation Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II aircraft. The new version of the engine can provide increased power and thermal management system capacity (Image source: Pratt & Whitney).

A new ‘Works’ is in the works

Pratt & Whitney aims to cut engine development and procurement time in half with GatorWorks.
This week, Pratt & Whitney, a division of United Technologies Corp. (UTC), announced the establishment of GatorWorks, a newly formed prototyping arm that will focus on the rapid and agile development of dependable, lower-cost military engines.

According to Pratt & Whitney, GatorWorks' objective is to deliver state-of-the-art engines in half the lead time and for half the cost of traditional procurement cycles.

"The standard large engine development cycle is roughly 20 years. Our customers have asked for rapid innovation, technology development, and new product introduction. GatorWorks is the answer," says Matthew Bromberg, president of Pratt & Whitney military engines.

"Pratt & Whitney GatorWorks will seek to leverage commercial enterprise capabilities in rapid prototyping, iterative design, procurement, and testing of cutting-edge products for our customers. We've created an environment where our best engineers can reach their potential with all the tools they need, but without the unnecessary internal barriers that can sometimes slow them down" continues Bromberg.

The GatorWorks moniker pays homage to the official alias of Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s (now Lockheed Martin’s) Advanced Development Programs: Skunk Works. The group was formed in 1943 when the U.S. Army Air Tactical Service Command met with Lockheed Aircraft Corporation to discuss the urgent need to counter the developing German jet aircraft program.

Within 143 days (seven days before deadline), the Lockheed team designed and built the United States’ first operations jet fighter, the XP-80 Shooting Star.

The crack team’s success was based on an unconventional, rule-breaking approach that challenged bureaucratic barriers to innovation. Since then, multiple aerospace organizations have used the ‘Works’ handle to designate advanced prototyping departments, such as Boeing’s Phantom Works and NASA’s Eagleworks Laboratories.  

Like its forerunners, Pratt & Whitney GatorWorks will seek to combine the efficiency, agility, and unconstrained boundaries of a small start-up, with the discipline and engineering rigor of the world's leading propulsion company. The new unit incorporates a mix of cross-functional teams, vertical integration, and a short list of suppliers and partners.

While the hand-picked GatorWorks team has been operational since early 2018 – focusing on developing a family of four undisclosed advanced products – the June 12 announcement marks the special projects group’s official formation.
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