It would also save billions of dollars for U.S. taxpayers.
President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have made it clear they believe it is in the country's best interest for Pratt's F135 engine alone to power the F-35 — the aircraft that will soon become the fifth-generation fighter aircraft of choice not only for the United States, but for friendly countries around the world. The president and the secretary of defense have said if we build a second engine for the F-35, it will cost taxpayers an additional $4 billion to $6 billion. On the other side of the field is a joint venture of General Electric Co. and Rolls Royce, who want the government to continue funding an alternate engine.
So the president has made it clear he wants Pratt in the game. What we need now is for Team Connecticut to put recent losses behind us and focus on the next big contest. Let's get a win. This is a huge opportunity with a genuine chance of success. Securing Pratt's sole-source position on the F-35 would mean an entire generation of well-paying aerospace jobs at Pratt's Middletown plant.
Sen. Joe Lieberman certainly knows that and appears to be ready. During a recent visit to the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce, the senator said, "This is an enormously important contract. If we wind up being the sole manufacturer, it will result in an enormous amount of work for 25 years and maybe more." Sen. Lieberman added, "I'll do everything I can to assure the sole manufacturer of the engine for the JSF [F-35] will be at Pratt & Whitney right here in Middletown."
We are all aware that as a high-cost, high-wage state, we are in a battle to keep well-paying manufacturing jobs. However, against these odds, Connecticut remains the home of innovation and productivity. Even facing an often hostile business climate, UTC and Pratt continue to succeed — Pratt's manufacturing facility here in Middletown is a prime example. Few would believe that this much manufacturing would not only survive but thrive in this high-cost territory. But there it is, and there Pratt is, poised to again be on the leading edge of aerospace history.
We're very much in the game, Connecticut. We're on the verge of a game-winning score. Our pride and our reputation as a winner are at stake. We've got a great team. The clock is ticking.
The full column is here.