“The conference bill should not provide funding for weapons that are not working or are no longer needed,” Gates told the lawmakers.The House included $485 million for the VH-71 presidential helicopter and $560 million for the Joint Strike Fighter alternate engine, which is built by General Electric and Rolls-Royce. That engine is in direct competition with the primary engine built by Pratt & Whitney.Gates recently stressed that fully funding the alternate engine will cost billions more over several years and that the engine currently in development is behind the primary engine by about three years.
Gate's letter follows comments yesterday by Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell when asked about the issue:
But let me take this opportunity to note that even if the Congress provides an appropriation in one year, and it doesn't potentially impact additional airframes, a one-year allocation doesn't deal with how we look at this program, at a potential second engine program.Previously, Bloomberg news reported that Undersecretary for Acquisition Ashton Carter noted that “The department has looked at and analyzed the potential benefits of a second engine of the Joint Strike Fighter for years...The crux of the analysis is that the additional upfront costs of a second engine are very clear and very real and the possible savings associated with a hypothesized competition in the future are much harder to estimate.”
We look at this over at least a five-year time span, and we need to have a better sense of the funding stream over the life of that program. And so even if they are able to devise a way to fund it one year without it adversely impacting airframes in that particular year, we still need a better understanding of the long-term impact of a second engine on the budgeting process...