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Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II   (Source: Lockheed Martin)
In addition, USAF Bomber Program Office created to prepare for bomber replacement

The most expensive weapons program on the budget for the U.S. Armed Forces is the F-35 Lightning II program. The fighter jets are plagued with cost overruns and issues that have lead to delays and many fights in Washington. Despite all the turmoil, the first production F-35 Lightning II was delivered to the USAF marking an important milestone in the program.

One of the components of the F-35 program that was killed to save money was the development of an alternate engine for the aircraft. The second engine was being developed by General Electric and Rolls Royce, but he House recently voted to pull funding.

Despite the pulled funding, the secondary engine for the F-35 came up again in The House Armed Services Committee with a new amendment to the 2012 defense authorization bill. The amendment didn't approve any new funding for the second engine, but left the door open for GE and Rolls Royce to continue the development of the second engine at their own expense. GE announced that it would like to continue development of the engine.

The amendment dictates that the Pentagon cannot destroy any data relating to the second engine and to support the continued development. Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon said the development of the second engine at no cost was a "no brainer."

Another amendment was voted down that would have cut the buy of F-35 jets in 2012 from six aircraft to four. The Amendment was withdrawn when it didn't have the votes to pass.

While the second engine for the F-35 is cropping up again in the House, the DoD is also moving forward on its plan to seek a replacement for the aging bomber fleet in the USAF toady.

The DoD has approved a USAF Bomber Program Office that will work to get plans in place for the branch’s next generation bomber. Air Force undersecretary Erin Conaton said, "We've got a general mandate from the Secretary of Defense to go forward with standing up the program office, so we're just at the beginning of that work."

Currently the estimate for the number of bombers needed is 80 to 100. One of the first things that will be done is to set firmer requirements on the number of bombers needed.

Conaton said, "Eighty to 100 is our current best estimate of what we think we'll need, but that estimate will be refined over time as we see the capability and what we think we can afford." She continued, " We don't have a full life-cycle cost [for the bomber] yet. That's the work that'll be done now by the program office as they stand up."

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No problem
By gamerk2 on 5/12/2011 1:51:18 PM , Rating: 3
assuming no Federal money goes toward it. If the second engine can be made better, for a cheaper price, without receiving any more Federal money, then fine.

RE: No problem
By CharonPDX on 5/12/2011 2:38:30 PM , Rating: 3
Exactly. If companies want to spend their own money trying to compete, great. If they come up with something, then by all means, switch. (And Rolls Royce can of course compete for the UK JSF.)

RE: No problem
By Belard on 5/12/2011 3:04:49 PM , Rating: 2
Yep Yep..

If GE wants to spend 100% of their own money, sure.

Otherwise, a 2nd engine isn't needed.

We already have big problems with EXXON and the other oil companies and GE paying $0 in taxes. less than what we spend for a $1 sandwich at McDonalds... and worse, these multi-billion dollar companies getting $MILLIONS in tax-refunds?!


RE: No problem
By ChuckDriver on 5/13/2011 9:20:32 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know about GE, but ExxonMobil paid about $21.56 billion in income taxes in 2010 for an effective tax rate of 45%.

RE: No problem
By fic2 on 5/12/2011 3:34:13 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is that in the beginning they will say they are doing it with their own money, but then 6 months down the road they will b1tch and whine to their bought & paid for congress-critters and they will get a $20M grant to start the program back up. Then in another 6 months they will get $40M for some other excuse to work on it. Pretty soon - look the fed gov't (i.e. taxpayers) have put up all the money for the R&D of the engine.

RE: No problem
By fic2 on 5/12/2011 3:38:43 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, and then since "they" spent all this money developing it they arm twist until they have a contract to sell them to the military.

How many F-35s are we going to buy anyway? Article says 6 in 2012. I assume that would ramp up above 6/year at some point.

RE: No problem
By kattanna on 5/12/2011 4:01:13 PM , Rating: 2
The USAF has accepted the F-35 into its fleet marking the first of a planned 1,763 production aircraft to be delivered.

aye.. and ramp up they will have to

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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