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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 F4iHorn on 7/27/2009 3:26:21 PM , Rating: 5
Of course defense contractors are greedy. Every company is greedy. Every person is greedy, even poor people. I'm greedy about the air I breathe. I'm sure GE is trying to get an extra buck here. But that's their job. To win contracts! But that isn't the main reason companies like these keep upping the price. At least in recent history the price for military equipment is going up from the original quote because congress keeps decreasing the production run. I'm sure you are aware that each B-2 cost over 1 billion and each F-22 cost about 300 million. The original contract for the B-2 was 100 planes. They only built 21. The original contract for the F-22 was somewhere around 400 (enough to replace the F-15). Now they're stopping production at 162. So you can see how the price keeps going up. Northrop Grumman didn't spend less on R&D because the production run was less than expected. That cost is static and already spent. The F-22 was especially frustrating, because congress reduced the production run multiple times. Each time they used the excuse that the plane cost too much. And each time they cut the numbers the cost per unit went up. Imagine that! I believe the original cost per F-22 was less than 100 million, still a lot of money to be sure. But hell, the F-14 cost 60 million in the seventies! So to me, that doesn't seem too far off given inflation.
And who isn't telling you that companies are very very greedy. Congress, the President, the media? I hear it every time I turn on the TV.

Now with all that said. F--k GE!


RE: What's that sound I hear?
By 91TTZ on 7/28/2009 12:44:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The original contract for the F-22 was somewhere around 400 (enough to replace the F-15). Now they're stopping production at 162. So you can see how the price keeps going up. Northrop Grumman didn't spend less on R&D because the production run was less than expected. That cost is static and already spent. The F-22 was especially frustrating, because congress reduced the production run multiple times. Each time they used the excuse that the plane cost too much. And each time they cut the numbers the cost per unit went up. Imagine that!


You're exactly right. Politicians are playing the "funny numbers" game. The actual cost to produce the F-22 is about $138 million per plane. But people often cite the amortized cost which includes R&D, so the less aircraft that are produced the more the quoted cost per unit will be. Then they use that new figure to justify cutting the number even further, which makes the cost go up... rinse, lather, repeat. It's a snowball effect that's mostly political, and what you end up with is a huge R&D project that only results in small numbers of units.


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