GE Bets On House To Keep F-35 Second Engine Alive

by: Matthew Potter
July 24, 2009

Category: Business Line, Companies, Congress, Department of Defense, development program, Events, Federal Budget Process, GE, Lockheed Martin, Military Aviation, Pratt & Whitney, production program, Rolls-Royce, Services, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy | RSS 2.0

Following up on its decision to strip the F-22 funding from the 2010 budget as requested by the Obama Administration the Senate also de-funded the second source for the F-35 JSF engine. This program too had its funding removed in the President’s budget submission but the House and the Senate Committees had restored some money to continue the program.

GE and Rolls-Royce are making this engine, the F136 with Pratt & Whitney responsible for the main F135 engine. The idea of having a second engine was due to the large amount of F-35 aircraft required and the three different versions there might be a need for such capability. GE is claiming that the competition that their engine provides will help control costs and schedule. The company feels that the funding will remain in the final bill as the House will support it in Conference. There is still a chance that the conference bill will also retain some money for the F-22 if the House is hard over on it.

It is interesting that Secretary of Defense Gates‘ wants to end this competitive program to save money when one of the new changes to defense acquisition that he has pushed this year is increased competition in the early stages of a program. Historically when there have been multiple sources trying to win a program there have been cost savings to the Government. In this case the feeling must be that the program is too mature to justify the two sources for the engines.

With the support of the Senate for Obama it may be a contentious conference, or the House may end up ending the programs. It will be an interesting August from the defense budget point of view.

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