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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 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.

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay
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