General Electric and Rolls-Royce have chosen to self-fund development of their F136 engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, after the US Department of Defense issued a 90 day stop-work order on March 24.
“The stop-work order will remain in place pending final resolution of the program’s future, for a period not to exceed 90 days, unless extended by agreement of the government and the contractor,” said a Pentagon statement.
Consequently, GE and RR have elected to self fund continued development of the engine during that time in the hope that the US Congress elects to continue to fund the engine’s development.
A final decision on the engine, being developed as an alternative to the Pratt & Whitney F135, will be made by Congress. The House of Representatives voted in February to cancel the engine, but that decision has not passed the Senate.
“In these times of fiscal constraint, the Department of Defense cannot waste funding of any kind, much less the $1 million per day that is being spent on the second engine that Secretary Gates and our most senior Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps leaders say they don’t want and can’t afford,” Republican Senator John McCain was reported as saying.
For several years now the Pentagon and US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have tried to cancel the F136 program, only for the engine’s funding to be reinstated by Congress.