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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 foolsgambit11 on 7/28/2009 7:57:22 PM , Rating: 2
Maintaining a military is one of the few things our government does that it is actually constitutionally obligated to do
False. Or at least a half-truth. Have you read the Federalist Papers? A standing army was considered a bad idea, and the Constitution was supposed to prevent just such a beast by forcing Congress to authorize spending on an army at least every two years. A standing navy was acceptable, though, since it couldn't be assembled quickly when needed. But we're talking about the Powers of Congress here - that is how they are described. Things Congress has the power to do. They are not obligations. The government isn't Constitutionally obligated to maintain a military. It is certainly morally and ethically obligated to provide for the common defense, but 'provide for the common defense' and 'maintain a military' are not necessarily the same thing, and a legal obligation and a moral obligation are certainly not the same thing.

Of course, all this talk about first principles ignores the simple facts of this specific case. We are developing a new jet. It's got an engine. The JSF project heads feel it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a second option for its engine. The DOD is aware of their concerns, but still feels that one engine is sufficient. Congress (at least the Senate) and the President listen to the subject matter experts on National Defense. I can't see where the problem is. If the DOD had recommended a second engine, and they had decided that they would only authorize one, then we should expect them to explain their reasoning - what other national interests are they weighing against the DOD's recommendations to come to their conclusion? But that's not happening in this case.

When Bush said he would take the advice of the Generals in Iraq, that was a good idea. When Obama takes the advice of the Generals in planning National Defense, that's suddenly a problem? Partisanship. Pure partisanship.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan
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