The Joint Strike Fighter program faces an unknown future

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, produced by Lockheed Martin, looks to assume a pivotal role in our nation's air defense, replacing the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps' F-16 and F-18 aircraft of the Eighties and Nineties.  While military officials and politicians continue to discuss the need for high-priced Joint Strike Fighter craft, General Electric's future participation in the project remains unknown.

The U.S. Pentagon's top weapons buyer, Ashton Carter, noted a GE-provided alternative F-35 JSF engine may not be as beneficial as previously thought.  If true, GE's recent offer to manufacture 100 alternate F-35 JSF engines for a set cost will not matter.

"The department has looked at and analyzed the potential benefits of a second engine of the Joint Strike Fighter for years,” Carter told Bloomberg during a recent interview.  “The crux of the analysis is that the additional upfront costs of a second engine are very clear and very real and the possible savings associated with a hypothesized competition in the future are much harder to estimate.”

Despite the concern, House and Senate negotiators have approved additional funding for the F136 engine made by GE Aviation.  Even so, the White House may veto the bill in the future, as President Barack Obama has not shown interest in investing more into the project.  If the bill passes, GE Aviation will receiver $560 million to fund the engine's development and production.

The controversy involving JSF fighter craft come at a time the U.S. military faces a wider fighter gap in part due to Defense Secretary Robert Gates' decision to end the production of F-22 Raptor aircraft.

Military officials, politicians and private contractors will continue to work towards a resolution to ensure the military gets its next-generation aircraft.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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