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Pratt & Whitney chief says order backlog 'extremely strong' for key jet engine

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - The investment by United Technologies Corp. in its energy-efficient, quieter jet engines is paying off with a sizable order backlog for Pratt & Whitney, the subsidiary's president said Tuesday.

Paul Adams, who took over as president of Pratt & Whitney early this year, said at the Connecticut-based company's annual media day Tuesday that it has a backlog of more than 5,500 geared turbofan engines, which he called "extremely strong."

"It really shows that the market has greatly accepted the technology and value ... and positions us for growth as we go forward," he said.

United Technologies spent $1 billion over 20 years to develop the engine that some analysts have said was critical to Pratt & Whitney's success.

Adams also said the outlook for sales of military joint strike fighter jet engines is strong despite pressure on Pentagon spending. Another factor is the 2011 Air Force contract to Boeing to build airborne refuelling tankers that benefits Pratt & Whitney, he said.

He said revenue is expected to double to about $29 billion in 10 years. That's in keeping with previous guidance.

Military spending hews to a deficit-driven, bipartisan budget agreement after two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lawmakers have cut the budget for operations and maintenance by $1.4 billion to cover the cost of favoured ships and planes.

Bennett Croswell, president of Pratt & Whitney's military engines business, said in an interview that despite pressure to reduce Pentagon spending, aging weapons systems such as tankers and fighters will need to be replaced.

"With budgets coming down, there's a real need to recapitalize," he said.

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