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Rolls-Royce opens new LiftSystem repair facility

PLAINFIELD, Ind. (WISH) – Rolls Royce opened a new repair facility Tuesday in Plainfield for F-35 LiftSystem engine components which allows the jet to maneuver vertically. The facility represents a $10 million investment by the company and the Marine Corps and allows for future growth.

Development, testing and training of the system has been ongoing since the late 90’s and is now slated to go into initial operations this summer by the Marines for use in combat and regular missions.

“So they can get it to unapproved runways and do their close support missions and their foreign deploy missions,” said Tom Hartmann, Senior Vice President of Customer Business for Defense for Rolls Royce. “It takes off on a very short runway, less than 500 feet off the ship and it comes back and lands on a spot on the ship.”

The LiftSystem parts are made at a Rolls Royce plant already located in Plainfield. With about 600 planes set to use the technology the company had to decide where to locate a repair facility.

“We need to have a facility so as they run into maintenance challenges with it – should they get something in – break something, we can quickly bring that component back, repair it and get it back in service for them,” Hartmann said.

While several sites were considered, ultimately it made sense to locate just doors down from the current production site. Hartmann called it “good business sense.”

“So we share engineers and expertise and factory workers to come in and do the maintenance and new builds,” Hartmann said. “And share those techniques because they are very similar because obviously we have to put it back out the door in tip top condition.”

The facility will employ 40 people, many of whom are already with Rolls Royce, Hartmann said.

Hover technology has been in development since the 50s with the Harrier Aircraft but the F35 is the first supersonic stealthy vertical take off and landing capable airplane and considered unique in the world.