Yesterday Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen briefed reporters on the DoD's FY2011 budget proposal, which terminated the alternate engine program for the Joint Strike Fighter.
A few highlights are below (emphasis added), and the full transcript of the briefing can be found here.
- SEC. GATES: These budget submissions and strategy reviews are suffused with two major themes. The first is continued reform -- fundamentally changing the way this department does business, the priorities we set, the programs we fund, the weapons we buy and how we buy them...To achieve these objectives, the department must continue to reform the way it does business, from developing and buying major weapons programs to managing our workforce. Building on the reforms in the FY '10 budget, when a number of excess or poorly performing programs were canceled, the QDR proposed additional steps reflected in the FY '11 budget submission.
- SEC. GATES: They include terminating the...alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, as whatever benefits might accrue are more than offset by excess cost, complexity and associated risks. I'm fully aware of the political pressure to continue building the C-17 and to proceed with an alternate engine for the F-35, so let me be clear. I will strongly recommend that the president veto any legislation that sustains the unnecessary continuation of these two programs.
- SEC. GATES: As the QDR says, the department and the nation can no longer afford the quixotic pursuit of high-tech perfection that incurs unacceptable cost and risk, nor can the department afford to chase requirements that shift or continue to increase throughout a program's lifecycle.
- SEC. GATES: In closing, as I said last year, we must remember that every defense dollar spent on a program excess to real-world military needs is a dollar not available to take care of our people, reset the force, win the wars we are in, and improve capabilities in areas where we are underinvested and potentially vulnerable. That is a risk the president and I are not prepared to take. Making these tough decisions and tradeoffs is especially important in the constrained budget environment we face today and almost certainly will face in the future.
- Question: Mr. Secretary, on the alternate engine, you sounded like you've come up with a very hard recommendation for a veto. Last year, there seemed to be a caveat in that you did not want the program to be disrupted. If it were, then you would recommend the veto. Is there a difference this year or will you again have that caveat on disruption on the alternate engine?