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Collins Aerospace successfully tested its Enhanced Power and Cooling System (EPACS) to fix a significant cooling issue with the F-35 “Lightning II” aircraft, demonstrating 80 kW of cooling capacity across a range of conditions.
President of Power & Controls for Collins Aerospace Henry Brooks explained that the F-35 is used by allied forces worldwide, and in order to modernize the platform with advanced systems to counter emerging threats, it requires a significantly enhanced cooling capability.
According to Interesting Engineering, the F-35’s current power and thermal management system (PTMS) responsible for cooling the aircraft subsystems that generate heat is being overused. This overuse causes the engine to operate beyond its intended levels, increasing wear, so the program’s lifecycle cost estimate has been significantly reduced.
The lack of sufficient cooling is becoming a bigger issue due to the addition of more powerful electronics and sensors, advancements that increase the demand for the cooling system. Moreover, the planned upgrades to the aircraft for the 2030s would raise the requirement further – hence Collins Aerospace’s new EPACS.
Furthermore, the demand for cooling is expected to increase beyond the current capabilities due to the addition of more mission systems to the platform. If the EPACS delivers 80 kW of cooling (more than double the platform’s current capacity) it would provide the cooling needed to support all the planned upgrades to the F-35, as well as add a significant margin for the life of the aircraft.
Collins Aerospace has extensive in-flight experience supplying cooling and power generation systems across commercial and military aircraft- they have designed EPACS as a mature and low-risk solution using proven technologies. EPACS is compatible with all platform variants in order to reduce integration and operational risk and maximize the value of existing F-35 assets.