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  • Eliminating F-35 Engine Choice: Cutting Our Nose to Spite Our Face

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates indicated on September 1st that staff would recommend President Obama veto any legislation that continues to fund the F136, the alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). “We feel strongly there is not a need for the second engine,” he told reporters.

    That same day, however, General Electric and Rolls Royce offered to sell the F136 to the military through a fixed-price contract, an arrangement that some say could cut costs by 20%. The primary engine, the Pratt and Whitney F135, by contrast, is thought by some to be nearly $2 billion over budget.

    The decision facing Congress this fall is whether to continue supporting competition or whether to turn back and create an engine monopoly. Before reaching a decision, Congress should carefully weigh the costs of proceeding against the costs of turning back.

    Turning back now will lead to some immediate cost savings, but since the development of the F136 is already 70% complete, it should largely be viewed as a sunk cost. Down the line, however, eliminating a second engine may result in ballooning costs and waste.

    A process without competition is likely to lead to reduced efficiency and innovation and possibly produce an inferior product, Heritage Foundation Senior Analyst for National Security Mackenzie M. Eaglen cautioned last month. Eaglen also warned that the Air Force could incur significant military risks if a problem with the F135 grounds the fleet and the military has no alternative available.

    There may also be a political cost to discontinuing the F136 program. Several U.S. allies–including the Netherlands, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Turkey, and Australia–are relying on the F136 engine and have long been convinced of the benefits of a competitive two-vendor production process. They have made significant investments in the program.

    The JSF engine will be used in 90% of all U.S. military fighters by 2035, and in the fleets of several other partner nations. Paying more in 2010 may lead to savings in the future and increased security for the U.S. and our allies over the coming decades. Slashing the F136, by contrast, may simply be a case of cutting our nose to spite our face.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Eliminating F-35 Engine Choice: Cutting Our Nose to Spite Our Face

    1. Pingback: Eliminating F-35 Engine Choice: Cutting Our Nose to Spite Our Face « Prayer, News & Action

    2. Dave Yoder, FL says:

      Do not agree with you on the 2nd engine. It will never result in less cost down the road when you take into account the logistics of two engines & how GE/RR will get their investment back thru spare parts.

      I think the Heritage Foundation should stick to Constitutional issues & not take on Industrial competition issues. I've contributed to your efforts but will now have to reconsider; I'm sure your support for GE/RR has resulted in a large windfall contribution.

    3. Steve S says:

      I agree with Dave from Florida. Stick to the conservative agenda

    4. John Kowalczyk Bosto says:

      I would like to say that The Heritage Foundation is 100% right in its support for the F136..This is true conservative beliefs..We must have competition in the defence sector to lower cost and still get the best bang for the buck..Having one company producing the sole powerplant for all future aircraft is a monopoly..Isnt that want Ronald Reagan fought againest? Once you get rid of your competition your left with no where to go for your future military need..Besides GE and RR are 75% complete with the F136..Maybe Steve and Dave should consider their statements before making them..Isnt Pratt & Whitney Florida ?

    5. Pingback: Disarming. Eliminating F-35 Engine Choice: Cutting Our Nose to Spite Our Face

    6. Janon O., Connecticu says:

      A disappointing perspective from the right. The alternative engine is an earmark pure and simple. All military officials, including the Department of Defense, have stated that this is wasteful. The Senate has said it is wasteful. The president has said it is wasteful. Only the House wants to keep it. Truly a strange point of view from an organization that claims to embrace conservative principles. Not a single official review guarantees savings for two engines, most clearly identify significant cost *increases*. Please explain: if two engines are so important, why not two airframes, two landing gears, two cockpits, two system softwares, two hydrolics???? All of these components are just as important. Homework problem – how many of the dozens of military aircraft have two engines? Only ONE – the F-16. This is blatant government waste.

    7. Pingback: Why Doesn’t Anyone Seem to Care About the F136? | The Cincinnati Man

    8. Why we will fail says:

      Hey, kill government spending on programs for the people, but fund a reserve engine. That's why you get the big under-table bucks. Thanks for helping to destroy this country.

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