Pratt & Whitney F135 Engine

Third Party Comments

Competition can cut costs. But this competition has already been won by the Pratt & Whitney engine. Spending additional billions on continued development of the second version makes no sense. House members of both parties who favor a strong defense and lower deficits must strip out the alternate engine provisions when the authorization bill comes to the floor this week.
New York Times editorial, May 24, 2011

If the final bill presented to the president includes funding or a legislative direction to continue an extra engine program, the President’s senior advisers would recommend a veto.
Statement from White House Office of Management and Budget, May 24, 2011

Adoption of this provision (continuing the two-engine competition) would cause substantial harm to the F-35 program.
Undersecretary of Defense Ashton Carter in a letter to Rep.
Adam Smith, May 24, 2011

We’ve been bothered by information coming from the pro-alternate engine side—we think they’ve been stretching the facts a bit beyond what they’ll allow.
Nick Schwellenbach, Project on Government Oversight, GE's JSF Alternate Engine Ad Mischaracterizes GAO Report, April 11, 2011

When you get beyond the immediate concerns with deficits and jobs, the real reason the GE engine was rejected is that many members just don’t believe competition works in the defense business the way it does in normal markets.
Loren Thompson, Why Adam Smith Isn’t Welcome In The Defense Industry, February 21, 2011

The Seattle Times editorial board applauds members of Congress who voted Feb. 16 to cut off funding for the GE/Rolls-Royce substitute engines for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Federal Vote On Engine Contract Shows Who Is Serious About Budget Trimming, February 21, 2011

I doubt very much that we will do it this year.  We did not pass it last year.
Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Levin Says He Doubts U.S. Senate Will Fund General Electric's F-35 Engine, February 17, 2011

Today's vote sends a message to the American people that Congress heard their call to eliminate wasteful spending and put an end to business as usual. Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Florida), February 16, 2011

We can’t afford to buy two of everything. 
Dr. Ashton Carter, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, from speech referenced in DOD Buzz, November 17, 2010

The Pentagon, for the last two years, but this year, vociferously, through Gates, has said; it's unwanted, it's unneeded, it's unnecessary, and it's God awful expensive.
Rep. John Larson, Larson fights for military contract, WTNH, November 12, 2010

Given our deficit, taxpayers cannot afford to spend $2.9 billion on an extra engine. The Government Accountability Office warned about assuming potential cost savings saying, "results are dependent on how the government decides to run the competition, the number of aircraft that are ultimately purchased and the exact ratio of engines awarded to each contractor." They didn't say the F136 engine would save $20 billion, as supporters claim, because it won't.
General Don Shepperd (USAF, Ret.), The Washington Times, November 10, 2010

There`s one thing, a plane, the F-35, which has two engines. Every time they build one, they build two engines, an extra engine just to put in your pocketbook in case the extra one you lose it somehow. The Pentagon has been begging forever, please, please can we stop building two engines? They are built near John Boehner`s district. And John Boehner will throw his body on the second engine any time. He`s that serious about cutting the deficit.
NYT Columnist Gail Collins, The Rachel Maddow Show, November 5, 2010

So why is incoming House Speaker John Boehner supporting the GE engine? Because it would bring jobs to his district, which adjoins the district where GE's biggest engine plant is located. Hundreds of people who voted for Boehner will benefit from the program. That's quite a bargain -- a few hundred votes for a few billion dollars. Now you know why we have a budget deficit in the first place.
Loren Thompson, Extra Engine For New Fighter Is Early Test Of Whether Republicans Are Serious About Deficit Reduction, November 3, 2010

House Minority Leader John Boehner rails against government spending yet votes for a $485 million appropriation for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s alternative engine, which the Pentagon wants to kill. Boehner’s district is near the General Electric plant that’s building the engine…With fiscal conservatives like these, who needs big spenders?
Caroline Baum, Pork For Me, Scraps For You, Is Tragedy, Bloomberg, October 27, 2010

Because especially in this climate we have congressional leaders that are not interested in spending restraint at all.  For example, I back spending restraint across the board; at the DOD, like no second engine for the F-35 fighter, closing down Joint Forces Command, across-the-board reductions. When you look at the state of the economy right now, you have to set a priority.  
Senator-Elect Mark Kirk, Meet the Press, October 10, 2010

What’s more, the Defense Department is notorious for its wasteful spending, which has gone largely unnoticed because of its protected status in appropriators’ hearts and minds. The most recent debate on lucrative defense earmarking offers some insight into why taxpayers are shouldering the heaviest defense spending burden in years. First targeted for cancellation under President Bush, an extra engine program for the Joint Strike Fighter has continued to receive funding despite its redundancy in the defense budget. While President Obama has also proposed eliminating this wasteful project with the full support of Secretary of Defense Gates and the top brass at the Pentagon, Congress continues to earmark funding for it, primarily to preserve jobs in the districts of a few influential members.
Mattie Corrao, Conservatives should support defense spending cuts, The Daily Caller, October 7, 2010

For many in Washington, especially those elected officials with parochial interests, it is easy to raise straw man issues instead of coming to grips with budget and operational realities.  The debate over funding for an extra engine for the F-35 perfectly fits the bill. Secretary Gates, clearly recognizing the need to trim the DoD budget, has to make tough decisions. He has to consider not just our nation’s critical national security needs, and the safety and security of our military men and women, but also economic reality.  
Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, Gates is right about Defense efficiency, The Hill, September 28, 2010

The simple truth is that it costs more money to sustain two production lines, two supply chains, and two maintenance systems than it does to sustain one of each. And the notion that a program can be made safer or more reliable by doubling its complexity seems quite improbable.
Loren Thompson, Gates Is Right: An Extra Engine For F-35 Wastes Money, September 1, 2010

Let's talk specifics. For those who aren't familiar with the alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter, it's the military's version of a Bridge To Nowhere. Members of the House and Senate have earmarked more than $1.2 billion for this since 2004, according to the watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste. The Pentagon has said repeatedly it doesn't want or need the engine, and both the Bush and Obama administrations have tried to eliminate it. You can't get more bipartisan than that. But a stubborn Congress controls the purse strings and won't relent.
Cal Thomas, USA Today, August 25, 2010

We live in a time when health care costs for the military have mushroomed from $19 billion dollars to $50 billion dollars in a decade. Military personnel are committing suicide in record numbers, and numerous recent articles have detailed how the scarcity of money is affecting the care provided to thousands of brave warriors wounded in the interminable wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. This is not the time for politics in defense procurement. If the Air Force, the Navy, The Marine Corps, The Secretary of Defense, and the President of the United States want to kill this unnecessary, expensive, spare engine - why lobby for it?
Sarwar Kasmeri, New Atlanticist, August 9, 2010

A position that I've made clear and to which the President has spoken, on the alternate engine and C-17s, is also clear. That bill, I'm confident, will be vetoed.  Any bill that takes the alternate engine and more C-17s to the president, I am confident will be vetoed.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, DoD Briefing, August 9, 2010

I don't debate the larger strategic question about the value of competition. This is a question of: if we've got a trillion-dollar deficit, if we're not going to say no to that, what do we say no to?
Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz, Defense News, August 4, 2010

"The controversy over engines for F-35 fighter jets illustrates the reluctance of some members of Congress to cut back on the extravagance of the past. They want two different companies making engines for the F-35. Gates and the White House rightly oppose this as wasteful."
The Concord Coalition, Washington Budget Report, August 3, 2010

Pence is hardly the only Republican lawmaker to support the wasteful extra engine, despite bloviating about government spending on a nearly daily basis. For example, 32 members of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) — a group of ultra-conservative House members — signed a “no earmarks” pledge, but 17 of that 32 voted to fund the extra engine anyway. Beyond Pence, who is the third-ranking Republican in the House, supporters of the extra engine include such fiscal conservative leaders as Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), and RSC Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) — almost the entire Republican leadership.
Alex Seitz Wald, Center for American Progress, July 31, 2010

Chief among the cuts is an extra engine for the F-35 fighter jet, of which Gates has said, “Every dollar additional to the budget that we have to put into the F-35 is a dollar taken from something else that the troops may need.”
Alex Seitz Wald, Center for American Progress, July 31, 2010

The Bush administration opposed this engine. The Obama administration opposes it. We have recommended for several years now against funding this engine, considering it a waste of money…To argue that we should add another $3 billion [over time] in what we regard as waste & frankly, I don't track the logic.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, ABC News, July 28, 2010

Boehner’s position on the second engine makes him — like many in the GOP — a deficit peacock, willing to use the deficit to score political points but not willing to make the necessary choices to eliminate it.
Pat Garofalo, Center for American Progress, July 27, 2010

Senator Daniel K. Inouye, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, also had backed the engine in previous years. But he said last week that with the administration’s opposition, “and faced with a deficit, that deal is dead.”
The New York Times, July 26, 2010

The bottom line is that outside the area of dual-use technologies like information networks, there just isn't much competition left in defense -- and with the government paying all the costs to keep two military suppliers going, it isn't likely to look kindly on plans to preserve competition. Just look at how strongly it is opposing General Electric plans to develop an 'alternate engine' that can compete with United Technologies' offering for the F-35.
Loren Thompson, Forbes, July 26, 2010

What's not theoretical is the billions needed to finish the GE engine, and that's why Obama and Gates are correct. The federal government simply cannot afford redundant weapons programs while trying to prop up an ailing economy and fight two wars, even if the programs could produce potential savings down the road.
Los Angeles Times, Editorial, July 22, 2010

Even if the alternate engine were sure to save money over the long run, we can't afford the $485 million it will cost in FY 2011 or the $3.5 billion to $4.5 billion the GAO has suggested may be required to cover the engine's remaining development and production costs. At some point, all those legislators who say they favor fiscal responsibility will have to vote as if they really mean it, or admit that they are part of the problem.
Lawrence Korb and Loren Thompson, The Richmond Times Dispatch, July 20, 2010

Its supporters argue that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) believes competing engines might save up to 12 percent of program costs over the long run. They neglect to mention that two other government research organizations asked to assess the alternate engine at the same time -- the Institute for Defense Analyses and the Pentagon's own Cost Analysis Improvement Group -- found savings were not likely.
Lawrence Korb and Loren Thompson, The Richmond Times Dispatch, July 20, 2010

The fact that the alternate engine is a good idea because people on both sides of the aisle support it is not persuasive. That happens with every military system where there are home-state jobs to be had.
Lawrence Korb and Loren Thompson, The Richmond Times Dispatch, July 20, 2010

It's what everyone finds frustrating about Washington," said [Rep.] Larson. "At this time, when we're trying to make cuts and rein in the deficit, and when you have an engine that's unnecessary and unwanted, that we would go ahead and still fund it.
Rep. John Larson, The Connecticut Mirror, July 14, 2010

Our new approach ignites real competition. One of the reasons the department is opposed to an extra engine for the Joint Strike Fighter is that we do not think it will lead to real competition but to directed buys.
Dr. Ashton Carter, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Pentagon Briefing, June 28, 2010

We also need the in-depth scrutiny of defense spending that Secretary Gates has demanded. He has urged Congress to stop funding additional C-17 cargo planes and an extra engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, to fight the rapid cost inflation in military health care, to cut unnecessary weapons systems, and to trim the overhead that makes up more than 40% of the defense budget. While his proposals have met with controversy, I wish more of us in public life were as honest about hard budget choices as Secretary Gates.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), 3rd Way Speech on Deficit Reduction, June 22, 2010

We think the current engine that GE is offering probably does not meet the performance standards that are required. And the taxpayer will be required to pay for any enhancements that would bring it up to the performance standard that we require.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Aviation Week, June 21, 2010

The General Accountability Office estimated a two-source engine program would eventually lower long-term costs by 12 percent. Proponents may have some facts on their side, but miss the common sense of this issue.Those who want market competition for jet engines should realize the government cannot create competition by spending money on things we don't need. It's one of the most spurious arguments yet: Spend so we can prop up competition, so we can subsidize competition. If we want competition, we should demand accountability and competitive prices for defense contractors, not offer them some corporate welfare.
The Salem News, Editorial, June 23, 2010

“They have my vote, not my head,’’ he [Rep. Frank] said of those who want to spend $3 billion on the backup engine, basically admitting that he’s putting parochial concerns ahead of the national interest. Yet Congress maintains its funding system for exactly the pork-barrel, jobs-for-the-home-folk reason that Frank is supporting the backup F-35 engine…even if what’s being made is unnecessary for national defense. 
Boston Globe, Editorial, June 22, 2010



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