Wednesday, May 26, 2010
AMVETS Opposes Alternate Engine
Over the last few years, both the Bush and Obama Administrations have sought to remove funding for the wasteful F35 Joint Strike Fighter alternate engine program. As a leader in veterans’ advocacy for more than 65 years, AMVETS supports this year’s latest efforts to kill funding for the alternate engine, diverting funds to directly support the brave men and women tasked with fighting on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The alternate engine for the Pentagon’s F35 Joint Strike Fighter program is a perfect example of a program that wastes funding desperately needed by our military men and women serving in harm’s way. Billions have already been spent on a wasteful extra engine, even though the current engine is already in production and performing well.
Our nation’s top military minds have consistently voiced their opposition to the alternate engine, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, and the service chiefs for the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, the services set to receive the Joint Strike Fighter.
Sadly, even though the Pentagon insists it will never field the new engine, Congressional leaders have continued to approve funding for the program each year. Supporters say the alternate engine would save money, but independent studies commissioned by Congress clearly refute this assertion.
This money must be spent on the needs of our soldiers and veterans today—not five or more years down the road. Congress has earmarked more than one billion dollars on this project since President Bush first tried to cancel it, and taxpayers will foot the bill for another $2.9 billion just to complete development and testing on the extra engine; never mind production costs.
That same amount of money could pay the health care costs of every single Iraq and Afghanistan veteran this year. The $465 million spent last year could have been used for mine resistant vehicles and helicopters that are badly needed by our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but instead was wasted on an engine our military leaders have repeatedly said they don’t want or need.
As a fellow veteran, AMVETS hopes you will join us in proudly supporting the amendment to divert much of the wasteful alternate engine funding to the National Guard & Reserve Equipment Account, which faces a $42.5 billion equipment shortage in 2010. It’s time we make a commitment to giving our brave American troops what they need today.
Raymond C. Kelley
AMVETS National Legislative Director