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JSF Engine Pork Continues

by Ward Carroll on May 4, 2007

JSF-burner-web.jpg

A newly-elected Ohio congresswoman announced May 2 that the House Armed Services Committees Air and Land Forces Subcommittee had restored funding for the Joint Strike Fighter alternate engine program.

Every year, the Pentagon zeros out funding for the costly earmark, and each year lawmakers representing districts that have a vested interest re-insert the cash.

It would be one thing if the pork could swim around the bloated defense bill as an eight-figure vote-getter, losing itself in a myriad of such programs inserted into the bill without a Pentagon request. But the alternate engine program is on a nearly half-billion dollar life support system that sucks a chunk of funds away from needs the Air Force claims are more urgent.

How many more MRAP vehicles could the Pentagon buy to protect forces in Iraq with the $480 million Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) says will result in lower acquisition costs; reduced development and operational risk; and long term savings in life cycle costs?

Thats right — at about $1 million a pop, the Army and Marine Corps could use that money to buy nearly 500 of the IED-resistant vehicles. Not to mention how that money could be put to use in the Air Forces $17 billion unfunded priorities list like A-10 upgrades ($37 million) and force protection equipment for Airmen ($250 million).

And there has been no good case made to justify that continuing to fund the development of GEs F136 engine for the F-35 Lightning II JSF will somehow reduce life cycle costs and be in the interest of the America taxpayer. What evidence is there that the Pratt and Whitney engine isnt any good and that another engine is needed?

General Electric Aviation is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.

With the F-35 program nearing IOC, youd think this line of reasoning would have played out. But yet again, lawmakers in the House have agreed to keep the alternate engine program alive, bucking the Air Force in one area the service has continually vowed to save money.

“General Electric has worked tirelessly to develop the alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter, I am very pleased the Committee continued to authorize this program, important to both our national security and the greater Cincinnati economy,” Congresswoman Schmidt said.

“Today is another good day for Cincinnati,” Schmidt concluded.

(Gouge: NC)

Christian

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff May 4, 2007 at 9:39 am

Why does the Air Force need the JSF? They already have the most advanced and unrivaled Air Force on Earth (especially with 100 or so F-22…cha ching$$$$$$). Why not invest more money into more A-10s that are actually needed? Seems to me that the Air Force just likes to spend money about as much as a 16 year old high school girl with daddy’s credit card.

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Stephen Trimble May 4, 2007 at 9:47 am

Hey Christian, you’re right to point out that nobody’s going to save money buying the F136. Of course, it’s not all about the money.
The F136 is the only all new engine design in the JSF program, as the F135 is derived from the F-22′s F119. That means the F136 may have greater growth potential, which may come in handy depending on how heavier the JSF gets (and aircraft weight growth, mind you, is an inevitable reality).
So if you’re speaking in terms of raw finances, then, yeah, kill the F136.
But there’s other decent reasons to keep the program hanging around.
I’m not sure I’d want to pull all my engine eggs in Pratt & Whitney’s basket myself.

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George Skinner May 4, 2007 at 10:57 am

Stephen,
The F136 is derived from the GE F120 design that lost out to the F119 in the ATF competition 15 years ago. As such, the F136 is really no newer than the F135. The F120/F136 is based on a variable cycle concept rather than the more conventional F119/F135 design, but the USAF has at least twice concluded that the conventional design meets their requirements and is a better bet from a reliability viewpoint. The congressional decision is just pork, and an end run by GE to try to get a cut of the next-gen fighter business they’ve lost twice already.

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Grandjester May 4, 2007 at 11:03 am

This is outrageous. You guys know I effing hate the 35 to start with, but now Mean Jean Schmidt has to pork it up? This is the same beyotch that basically called John Murtha a coward on the House floor.
Kill the 35 already, it’s a frakking money pit.

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esmoore May 4, 2007 at 12:06 pm

The GAO seems to thik competition among the
engine makers ia a good ides:
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/2006/05/gao-slams-f35-dualengine-program-cancellation/index.php
Strategypage also thinks competition will be as
good for the F-35 program as it was for the
F-15/16:
http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htproc/articles/20070326.aspx

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Billy Big Spuds May 4, 2007 at 12:58 pm

Jeff said it all. Why do we need the JSF when we have the best and unrivaled AF on the planet? We need gunships. Not more Natick-style crap.
-BBS

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Stephen Trimble May 4, 2007 at 1:41 pm

George,
You know, that seems to ring a bell. Well, shows what I know!
Thanks for the info.

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bespoke May 4, 2007 at 2:36 pm

Doesn’t the UK get pissy every time we talk about canceling the second engine? (Not sure of their interest, though.) They are the second biggest contributor to the JSF program, so I would think that would carry some weight.

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elizzar May 4, 2007 at 3:01 pm

hi all. i believe the british get ‘prissy’ because the alternative engine involves rolls royce, and was promised as part of the deal that saw britain become the only tier 1 partner in the jsf project. whilst they may have not invested as much as the usa, they have invested several billions of dollars. since the alternative engine would provide / protect jobs in the uk, they are annoyed it keeps getting dropped by the pentagon. [I await to be corrected on all points by the DT readership ;-)].
also it does make some sense, since it may help force rising jsf costs down (ie. competition versus monopoly) and as another comment noted provide an alternative supplier should something happen to the primary engine maker.
incidentally, the only reason the uk is buying the jsf is for the (still not confirmed) new aircraft carriers. i would have prefferred we had gone for a conventional catapult carrier design with navalised eurofighters/awacs/helicopters myself.

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esmoore May 4, 2007 at 5:37 pm

The 2 articles I listed in my previous post didn’t
show up as links, but rather as regular text.
Is there some trick to turning them into links?
Or do readers just have to copy & paste into their
browsers to see the articles?

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Jonathan May 6, 2007 at 12:23 am

Oink! Oink! Pigs acn’t fly either. How about an updated version of the M-16 instead that our troops really need instead of another boondoggle.Oh, and one more thing, we need a new rifle made in the USA instead of out-sourced.

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panthersny May 7, 2007 at 12:36 pm

The problem with a second engine is really the life cycle cost associated with maintaining this 2nd engine.
The Navy, AF, Marines will now have to support 2 engines = $$$$$$
Also, from what I know right now, an aircraft with a P&W engine cannot accept an GE engine without some serious work….unless I am mistaken.
We had better not deploy an F-35B squadron on an LHD with 2 sets of engines….there isn’t enough space as it is on our ships. Just imagine 6 spare engines of both types on a Carrier wing!!!!!

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orionhawk May 7, 2007 at 3:07 pm

the M16 is made in the US. South Carolina, I think. The manufacturer is FNH-USA, the American-owned-and-run division of Belgian FN-H. The same factory also makes M249′s and M240′s.

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Darryl May 22, 2007 at 3:00 pm

There are many reasons for the second engine. Competition between the engine manufactures will keep the cost to the government down, but reliability is the most important reason. The engine is the most complex part of a fighter jet and history has shown us on many occasions that one engine will have a problem in service that would require grounding the aircraft. With two different totally independent interchangeable engines the likelihood of the aircraft being grounded is significantly lowered.
There are many aircraft around the world that threaten are air supremacy the JSF and the Raptor will be the aircraft for the next thirty years. We can not depend on early eighties technology. Airframe fatigue over the years. They will not last forever.
The UK has interest in the second engine because it is not a GE engine, it is a GE & Rolls Royce (of the UK) engine. A big concern is that the PW engine has been struggling to meet it’s performance goals while the GE/RR engine is showing better performance.

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Benjamin Dover September 20, 2007 at 2:44 pm

“A big concern is that the PW engine has been struggling to meet it’s performance goals while the GE/RR engine is showing better performance. ”
Check your facts Darryl:
GE doesn’t even have an airworthy engine yet.
Pratt’s is already flying and exceeding performance specs…..

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Rick Flaherty February 19, 2008 at 12:16 pm

The F-22 was a piece of crap. The f-119 was a piece of crap. Same crappy engine maker. Same crappy airframe designer. Go figure where the real pork is.

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