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GE/Rolls-Royce F136 JSF engine in jeopardy

Purse strings in Washington are tighter than they have been in years meaning funds for some defense projects are harder to get.

The Senate has voted for an amendment to the annual defense authorization bill that could eventually block the proposed second engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: the F136 from General Electric/Rolls-Royce. Aviation Week reports that Congress has earmarked unrequested funds for the F136, but the Senate adopted the amendment on July 23 that would require proof that the F136 engine would cut costs for the program overall. The program currently relies on the F135 engine from Pratt & Whitney.

The amendment was written by Sen. Joseph Lieberman from Connecticut who said, "The Department of Defense has long said that it neither wants nor intends to use an engine other than the one currently produced by Pratt & Whitney."

AviationWeek reports that Lieberman's claims are not entirely accurate. The Pentagon and Air force Leadership have been rejecting calls for the F136 alternative engine, but program leaders for the JSF have stressed that an alternative engine isn’t a bad idea. The bill will have to be amended in the House version if the F136 engine is to continue to be an option. Money for the F136 has been earmarked already in the House's defense appropriations bill.

GE spokesman Rick Kennedy said, "The funding battle over the GE Rolls-Royce F136 fighter engine for the JSF is far from over. The argument for an engine competition for the JSF, the largest fighter program in US history, is simply too compelling."

President Obama has threatened to veto a bill that comes to him promoting a second engine with a chance of disrupting the program. The Senate has already voted against more funds for the F-22 Raptor program.

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RE: What's that sound I hear?
By Spivonious on 7/27/2009 11:41:44 AM , Rating: -1
When was the last time we won a war because of our air force?

Anyway, if the DoD didn't want another engine, why put all the money into developing it? The U.S. doesn't exactly have the cash to burn right now.

RE: What's that sound I hear?
By dr4gon on 7/27/2009 11:47:16 AM , Rating: 3
It's just part of defense. It's a mind game and this acts as a deterrent.

"Walk softly and carry a big stick."

RE: What's that sound I hear?
By taber on 7/27/2009 4:52:22 PM , Rating: 3
We might need to work on the walk softly part.

RE: What's that sound I hear?
By FITCamaro on 7/27/2009 11:55:48 AM , Rating: 4
Ummm...are you joking? Going into Iraq both in 91 and 2003 and Afghanistan in 2002, it was our air force that paved the way for ground troops. By the time our troops got there in 91, there was hardly anything left of Iraq's ground forces.

RE: What's that sound I hear?
By MrBlastman on 7/27/2009 12:33:32 PM , Rating: 5
Wait, I thought we did have cash to burn. We gave a lot to ACORN. That isn't burning cash? :-|

You can't be serious about winning a war due to our Air Force. If you are - you are quite delusional. Granted, Vietnam was not won because of our Air Force - they were wasted and squandered thanks to McNamara's incompetence, but aside from that our Air Force/Navy/Army air pilots have all made significant contributions to either winning the war, or at the very least (in Vietnam) keeping them alive.

There was this little war back in 1940-1945... something called World War II... Hmm, historians say that aviation changed the way wars were fought forever because of it. The Pacific Theater? Nope, that must not have been won due to our air superiority. We just loaded up explosives on our PT boats and rammed them into the Japanese vessels? Give me a break. The whole Pacific theater was won due to our air superiority. Sure, it took Aircraft carriers to get us there, but I dare say it would have turned out much differently if we _had_ skimped on our naval air superiority.

The European Theater in WW II, nope, our air force made no difference. We made not one contribution to that war because of it. That is totally ignoring the fact that the average life expectancy of a bomber crewman was less than that of a foot soldier. Our relentless onslaught of the German supply lines, their factories, fuel depots and other infrastructure played a key role in our victory. Sure, Patton was a machine, but, he couldn't have done it alone. Our aviators played a pivotal role there.

Korea? They played a huge part in that war as well. Desert Storm - they all but obliterated the ground forces. The current gulf war - once again our air superiority allowed us to hit targets hard and fast thus allowing our ground forces to close in. Sure, there came a point where ground forces were needed - the point is our air superiority saved lives. Just look at Afghanistan. The AH-64 attack chopper is a beast that is feared by ALL terrorists. You should take some time to read the novel "Apache" if you want to know more about it - the AH-64 is a savior to all ground forces and has extensively changed how special forces conduct their operations. It is a tremendous aid.

Oh, but air superiority is a waste of time? These tax dollars are better spent on ACORN and all the other nanny-state programs that will coddle our citizens? At least with military spending we take boys, enlist them into the ranks of the military and make MEN out of them. They learn how to bust their butts and make something of themselves. Of course, some of the socialists around here would argue it is better to spend it on welfare and keep people on the dole rather than being self sufficient. What a pile of crap.

These engines for the F-35 are a good thing. Sure, we don't need them now, but we plan on marketing the F-35 abroad, unlike the F-22. Just like the F-16, there will come a point where we will need to do a mid-life-cycle update. The A-10 just underwent this and they have transformed a flying tank into a flying beast because of it. The F-16 had its engines updated in order to handle the increased weight that the additional computers and instruments that were put into it. The F-16A is completely different from the F-16C/D Block 40, 52 and 60 /w/MLU updates. The updated engine allowed it to take all of this equipment on.

There is a saying in the aviation engineering community regarding base military airframes that are built empty. It goes something like "the military will always find a way to make them heavier and fill in all that empty space." In order to do that, you need engines to keep up the performance envelope rather than relegating the airframes to the third lines, or requiring a 4 ship of F16's to have a 4 ship of F-22's or F-15's to provide additional air coverage, when those resources could be used diverting the support packages to other areas of need.

RE: What's that sound I hear?
By Sureshot324 on 7/27/09, Rating: -1
RE: What's that sound I hear?
By MrBlastman on 7/27/2009 1:50:01 PM , Rating: 1
Just because we are eating Kabobs and Felafels today doesn't mean we won't be eating Kung Pow, Ramen or Hot n' Sour tomorrow. At one point we could have been eating lots of Caviar.

Be Prepared. There is no other way. If the enemy sees your big gun and is scared, perhaps they will be deterred from acting. If the enemy sees you have no gun at all, they might try and come kill you. If the enemy sees you have no gun but you secretly have a gigantic one, you might fool them and kill them when they try and come kill you.

Either way, it is better to have that big gun than not. Aircraft technology is so advanced nowadays that there is no feasible way to spool up production lines and crank out wonders such as the F-22 in rapid fashion should a large-scale conventional war start. At least, not right now. By having these planes now, we get that extra edge we need should the situation arise.

RE: What's that sound I hear?
By Sureshot324 on 7/27/2009 2:51:51 PM , Rating: 3
I don't disagree with this point, but it's all about numbers and you have to draw the line somewhere. Why stop here? Why not double the defense budget immediately so you can be even more safe from aggressors?

The probability of the US being defeated in a war in the near future is low enough, and the US's current financial situation is poor enough, that cutting wasteful programs such as the F22 and a second engine for the F35 is the right choice.

RE: What's that sound I hear?
By Harinezumi on 7/27/2009 8:10:35 PM , Rating: 3
It's important to be prepared, but what the US has been doing for the past decade is ripping off its balls to cover its ass.

China owns us, and to a large extent that is due to massive deficits brought on by chronic military overspending. What is the point of having the world's best military if your biggest geopolitical rival can destroy you economically without firing a shot?

Massive military spending made sense during the Cold War, because failure to keep up in the arms race was an invitation for the nukes to start flying. Outspending the rest of the world now makes absolutely no sense, and damages our overall national security by making us more economically vulnerable to foreign interests.

RE: What's that sound I hear?
By ianweck on 7/27/2009 3:18:59 PM , Rating: 3
Investing hundreds of billions in cutting edge aircraft is a complete waste at this point considering the kind of wars that are being fought.

If the choice is between overkill and underkill, I'll take overkill.

RE: What's that sound I hear?
By MrPoletski on 8/6/2009 9:14:06 AM , Rating: 2
If the choice is between overkill and underkill, I'll take overkill.

But that's not the choice, the choice is overkill or supermegakill.

RE: What's that sound I hear?
By helloseth on 7/27/2009 3:27:01 PM , Rating: 2
You guys are missing his point. Of course the airforce is crucial to recent wars like Iraq and Afghanistan. But we could have used WW2 planes for that and it wouldn't make a difference. These countries are not even challenging our airforce, effectively reducing the role of our planes to transports for our bombs. The guidance technology in the bombs themselves is much more important then the planes.

So you're suggesting that if US forces used B17 and P51's, the outcome would be the same?

Could it be that perhaps the reason "These countries are not even challenging our airforce" be that we do have a sufficently advanced air capability that if they try to setup SAM sites and paint our planes, we blow them off the map? That's the whole point of air superiority.

I seem to recall that the Soviets used somewhat more advanced aircraft that existed in WWII, and had heavy losses.

The bottom line is that air superiority is what makes enemys not respond to air superiority. Think Bosnia in the '90s. The US bombed the crap out of them and they did fight back (I recall one downed F117) but eventually they capitulated.

You never want a 'fair' fight in times of war...

RE: What's that sound I hear?
By yomamafor1 on 7/27/2009 12:50:32 PM , Rating: 2
How about WWII? Without air superiority, Allied's ground assault would have been much slower, at a much higher cost.

How about the first Iraq War? Air force acted as a first assault wave which took out most of Saddam's armor forces, so US forces can move in with little resistance.

How about the Vietnam War? How about the Pacific War? Even, how about the Cold War? The truth is, US relied a lot on air superiority to gain an upperhand in battles, an advantage our enemies didn't have.

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007
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