GE Aviation announced plans to create an environmental coatings facility for advanced military jet engine components in Alabama. GE Aviation is in the final stages of selecting a location for creating an Environmental Coatings Center of Excellence, which will enhance components for the GE/Rolls-Royce F136 jet engine for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) F-35 program. The GE/Rolls-Royce F136 engine is currently in development test and preparing for flight test next year. Environmental coatings are key to enhancing the performance and durability of its components. They protect the base metal on components from harsh thermal and corrosive environments. GE Aviation's new Alabama facility, which will be approximately 200,000 ft², is expected to open in the 2011-12 time frame to support initial F136 production beginning in 2013. The facility is expected to employ 300 to 400 people when the engine ramps up to full-rate production later this decade.