F136 engine receives funding…for now
The US House Defense Appropriations Committee has again earmarked funds for the GE/RR F136 ‘alternative’ JSF engine despite calls from the Pentagon and the White House to abandon the second engine.
US media reports US$450m (A$500m) has been approved in a vote which went 11-5 in the engine’s favour. The vote comes despite threats from the White House and Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, to veto the entire defence bill if funding for the second engine was included.
“I don’t know what more we can say or do to make clear that this is something we don’t want, we don’t need, and we can’t afford,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said in a statement. “I can assure you Secretary Gates will do whatever it takes to make sure we don’t continue to throw good money after bad in pursuit of the extra engine. And he enjoys the full support of the President in that effort.”
The GE/RR engine team were quick to release a statement also. “The GE/Rolls-Royce team is deeply gratified by this vote for competition,” said David Joyce, president and CEO of GE Aviation. “This committee studied this issue in great detail and determined that funding the F136 development is a sound financial decision as well as good public policy. The competition created by the F136 investment will more than pay for itself, and ultimately make the JSF a better aircraft.”
“Congress has consistently supported engine competition for more than a decade, and in a bipartisan fashion,” added Dan Korte, president of Rolls-Royce Defense. “Congress does not want a $100 billion monopoly in the F-35 engine program. The defence subcommittee in House Appropriations made that very clear with its vote today.”
While many analysts suggest a White House veto is unlikely for the sake of less than one per cent of that total funded, funding is still not assured, as the House bill must be ratified by Senate appropriators.