After touring the F-35 JSF manufacturing plant in Fort Worth, Texas, Defense Secretary Gates made a clear case, again today, about why the alternate engine should not be funded.
During Q and A with reporters, Secretary Gates was asked about the Administration’s veto threat if funds for the alternate engine are included in the defense budget and he responded :
"We have looked at the business case a number of times in terms of an alternative engine to the F135. The general conclusion is that it would cost several billion dollars in addition, that it would just by the nature of things be three or four or more years behind the F135 engine, and there's no reason to believe that it would not encounter the same kinds of development challenges that other new engines have encountered along the way.
And so at this point we're trying to count every dollar and where a dollar from one program, added to one program, takes away from another program that we think is more important, we feel strongly about the fact that there is not a need for a second engine and the President's advisers, the Hill has been informed that the President's advisers would recommend a veto if that's in the bill. The final decision obviously is up to the President."
Gates later added that, "We talked about trade-offs in other programs with respect to the alternate engine a minute ago. Well, 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. So it's as important to watch the costs here as it is on everything else."
Steve Trimble of The Dew Line also has a synopsis of the media briefing.