Print 14 comment(s) - last by Major HooHaa.. on Feb 21 at 5:32 PM

USAF pilots will start flight training with F-35 this year
House vote could hack $450 million set aside for development of alternative F-35 engine from budget

The U.S. military has been working on the most expensive weapons program in U.S. history for years now. That program is the F-35 Lighting II (Joint Strike Fighter) that will see action eventually in all branches of the U.S. military and will find its way to allied nations as well. The F-35 program has had more than its share of setbacks, and not all of those setbacks were issues with the aircraft. Many of the setbacks have come at the hands of lawmakers and budget cuts.

The House is set to vote on a critical funding bill that has serious implications on the future of the F-35 program. The budget has a provision in it for the continued development and deployment of an alternative engine for the F-35 to go along side the Pratt & Whitney F135 jet engine. The alternative engine is from GE and Rolls Royce and will be built in Ohio, and Indiana. The F135 engine is constructed in Florida and Texas. The engine vote is under pressure because many lawmakers in the House feel that adding a second engine to the program wastes taxpayer money and the House is looking to pare all it can from the budget for the year.

The spending measure the House is voting on has $450 million set aside for the GE and Rolls-Royce engine. The thing that has defense contractors nervous is that many of the House lawmakers are in their freshman terms and haven’t yet voted on the program. That means where the votes will lie on the second engine are more unknown than in previous votes.

Rep. Bob Dold, R-Ill, in his first term, said, "We have to step forward, we have to cut back on areas, and this is an area that the secretary of defense said we need to cut back on."

Debate on the bill is expected to continue all week and cuts on the alternative F-35 engine aren’t the only things on the chopping block as the House looks to cut billions from the budget. The cuts will also affect the Peace Corps, the EPA, and many more programs that currently receive federal funding. The White House has already warned the House that it would mount "strong opposition" to legislation that would undermine core government functions and investments in job growth.

While the future of the alternative F-35 engine in question, the F-35 program itself moves on. The Air Force has announced that it will begin to train instructor pilots on the F-35 before the end of 2011. The first F-35 aircraft will be delivered to the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base. The first round of aircraft will be the F-35A conventional take off and landing versions and 20 of the jets are expected in the first round of deliveries.

Vice Adm. Dave Venlet said, "We're going to put them in the hands of the fleet and the Air Force is going to be operating [Conventional take-off and landing aircraft] in training at Eglin before the year ends."

Defense News notes that it is uncommon for aircraft to be delivered to line pilots before formal operational testing is completed. However, a shortened informal test will be conducted before the 33rd pilots take delivery of the aircraft. Venlet said, "It's not a full operational test, it doesn't resolve any measures of effectiveness."

Venlet also noted that he expects the F-35B STOVL aircraft will have sea-trials with the Marine Corps this fall. The F-35B has been the most trouble prone of all the aircraft and has been put on a probationary status though the aircraft has made successful vertical test landings.

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so what
By kattanna on 2/16/2011 11:44:17 AM , Rating: 5
the military itself has said it doesnt want or need the 2nd engine.

only members of congress wanting to pander to their voters have wanted the engine

cut it.. and move on.

RE: so what
By BZDTemp on 2/16/11, Rating: 0
RE: so what
By vazili on 2/16/2011 12:50:16 PM , Rating: 2
Healthy competition? No. that just means more spare parts and more training and more costs.

its not needed, cut it.

RE: so what
By invidious on 2/16/2011 1:29:56 PM , Rating: 2
Even if it would keep costs down (which it wont), spending $450 billion to achieve said cost reduction will never be profitable. Each engine only costs a few million, we would have to make tens of thousants of F35s to "save" money.

This article doesn't paint the whole picture but the engines are one of the few parts of the F35 that isn't a huge money pit. Adding a second engine will change that.

RE: so what
By wempa on 2/16/2011 1:35:37 PM , Rating: 2
The article says the cost is $450 million , not billion. So, while it may not save money, your statement about tens of thousands of F35s is incorrect.

RE: so what
By sleepeeg3 on 2/16/2011 2:37:42 PM , Rating: 2
Long-term the costs are supposed to be around $3B. I am just annoyed that this is about the only piece of legislation that is being considered on top of a proposed $1.65T deficit budget. At least "defense" directly serves part of the Constitution.

RE: so what
By FITCamaro on 2/16/2011 2:27:01 PM , Rating: 2
Other countries have wanted the alternate engine. Not only because its built in Europe (Europeans want their own engine) but also because they don't want to rely on America for the engine. Building an engine there boosts their economy.

Our desires are not the only ones that matter for the JSF.

RE: so what
By kattanna on 2/16/2011 2:42:07 PM , Rating: 4
true, but there is no reason why WE have to pay for it to be built.

they want, fine, then pay for it. simple enough IMO

RE: so what
By bigdawg1988 on 2/16/2011 4:34:12 PM , Rating: 2
It's not just other countries, it was states here that wanted it (or the jobs). I wonder if Boehner cried over this. Typical hypocritical politician. Why doesn't he just tell P&W to get their s*** together and build the engine right at the price they said they would. Wouldn't that save more money than wasting $450M on another engine, that may not be any better?
What's wrong with just giving the Pentagon a certain amount and let them figure out what to buy?

RE: so what
By Major HooHaa on 2/21/2011 5:32:54 PM , Rating: 2
Would this be an entirely new engine that GE and Rolls Royce want to make for the F35?

If so, wouldn't a cheaper option to be, for GE and Rolls Royce to build a version of the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine under license?

After all during World War 2, the American company Packard built a number of versions of the Rolls Royce Merlin engine under license. These engines were used in a wide range of aircraft, including some P40's, the Spitfire Mk XVI and the P51 Mustang.

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