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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: sooo...
By knutjb on 7/27/2009 2:33:08 PM , Rating: 2
ut point A is not how all developement projects are funded. There's not going to be a huge market for F35 engines. So why would a company pay billions of dollars for R&D if they can't make it up in sales. Simple, the government pays for that R&D. The government paying multiple sources for multiple R&D's is just not going to happen in this economy.

Companies use research from that R&D and apply it to their own commercial designs saving them money in other areas. Will it happen in this economy? Depends on Pratt's reliability because the WH has cutoff further F22 production so the F35 must work and be reliable plus the F35 is a global sales aircraft unlike the F22 which is US only. The F22 is the replacement for the F15 and the F35 replaces the F16. They are different aircraft for different purposes.

On the flip side, when a government pays for the design, they also own it and are free to move the design to another manufacturer if necessary.

Not necessarily so, Lockeed stopped the Air Force from doing what it wanted to when they retired the SR-71, they dictated the conditions those aircraft had to be in to put on display to protect their proprietary designs. They even forced the AF to seize up the motors by operating them without oil and stripped out screw heads so they couldn't be accessed.

You don't simply take away an engine from one manufacturer and have another make it instead you use the other manufacturer's engine. The only other way is if it's licensed to be built by another manufacturer. Proprietary designs are held closely.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain
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