Saturday, May 22, 2010

The FACTS on the extra engine for Joint Strike Fighter

FACT: The DoD says it will cost an additional $2.9B to finish the F136 engine.

In a press conference on May 20, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, “We do believe that the full-up costs for us are about $2.9 billion. This department has a long and unhappy experience with overly optimistic contractor estimates.” Spending $2.9B in the hopes of saving $1B is not a responsible use of taxpayers’ dollars. The fact is, the extra engine team just keeps asking for (and receiving) billions of dollars despite having made very little progress. In 2008, the extra engine team said they only needed another $1B to finish development. Two years (and $1B later) the extra engine team is STILL saying they only need an additional $1B to complete development.

FACT: There was already a competition to power the F-35.

Competition for the JSF engine happened at the contractor level with all three JSF competitors selecting the P&W engine. This process of selecting subsystems, including the engine, as part of the overall weapon system, is standard during concept demonstration. Last year Senator Lieberman said: “There was a competition to build the engine for the Joint Strike Fighter. General Electric, in its proposal, lost that competition. Pratt & Whitney won that competition. Now, by way of legislation, the proponents of the second engine for this plane are trying to achieve, by legislation, what they could not achieve by competition.” GE has several military engine monopolies including the F-18, Black Hawk and Apache helicopters and the A-10 and they are not pushing an extra engine for those aircraft. GE is only in favor of competition when they lose.

FACT: The manufacturer of the extra engine is the largest supplier of military engines in the world and has several military engine monopolies.

GE is the largest military engine company in the world, producing 70% of U.S. military engines and has extensive military and commercial engine programs including sole-source contracts for more than 14,000 T700 engines for the Apache and Blackhawk helicopters and more than 4,000 F404 engines for the F-18. The extra engine manufacturer isn’t advocating for extra engines for those aircraft. The customer (DoD) has stated repeatedly that it does not want the extra engine, especially if the taxpayers are footing the bill.

FACT: Terminating the extra engine will save U.S. jobs and will not harm the U.S. industrial base.

U.K. based Rolls Royce is developing and manufacturing 40 percent of the extra engine, and a large portion of the Rolls Royce content will result in U.K., not U.S. jobs. In addition, the same number of engines will be built, regardless of manufacturer. A 2007 Institute of Defense Analysis study examined the top extra engine component suppliers and concluded that it is "unlikely that any supplier would exit the domestic industrial base because of F-136 termination".

FACT: Having an extra engine will cost more money, not save money.

The DoD has repeatedly stated that the notional cost savings that would result from further engine competition for the F-35 are based on unrealistic assumptions that they cannot accept. As Secretary Gates put it, “To argue that we should add another $3 billion in what we regard as waste to protect the billion and a half (dollars) that we believe already has been wasted, frankly, I don't track the logic.” The extra engine team claims that the F-35 engine program is worth $100B and that having a competing engine will generate savings. This is incorrect on both counts. First, a GAO report released in March 2010, reports that the engine program is closer to $60B. Second, the upfront cost to design and develop the extra engine will outweigh any potential savings because taxpayers must pay the full cost to develop both engines and foot the bill for two sets of parts, two production and maintenance lines, two technology advancement programs and duplicative personnel and training.

FACT: The firm fixed price offer put forward by the F-35 extra engine team is unrealistic.

Secretary Gates said on May 20, “With respect to the proposal for the extra engine, we think the proposal is based on unrealistic cost estimates. The proposal does provide a fixed price, but not for the engine we need.”

FACT: Funding of the extra engine has and will continue to reduce the number of JSF aircraft the U.S. can afford to buy, will take many away from other, more pressing DoD needs, and will have a negative impact on the warfighter.

When Congress continues to fund the extra engine against the judgment of the President and the DoD, the funding must come from somewhere else. In the past, it has come at the expense of the overall F-35 program and has already cost the JSF program four aircraft--a negative and direct impact on national security. In Congressional testimony, senior military leaders have testified that continued funding would come at the expense of 50-80 additional aircraft, aircraft our military needs. On May 20, Secretary Gates said, “We will strongly resist efforts to impose programs and changes on the department that the military does not want, cannot afford, and that takes dollars from programs and endeavors the military services do need.”

FACT: An extra engine for the JSF increases operational complexity and risk.

Single engine sources are the norm for military aircraft. No other military aircraft developed in the past three decades has been procured with multiple engine suppliers. In testimony in February Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen Norton Schwartz said, “The reality is that the F-22 and the F-18E/F are single engine airplanes. And, you know, there’s no dispute about that, and it’s because we collectively in the defense community, have become comfortable with the reliability and so on of those respective engines, one of which is a predecessor to the 135.” A case in point is the Pratt & Whitney F119 engine, powering the F-22, which is the safest, most successful fighter engine ever. The reliability of the F119 continues to set records without an extra engine. Inserting an extra engine into a program slows cost and learning curves and present operational risk and challenges to military men and women who will operate and maintain them. Proponents of the extra engine claim that a sole-source engine provider is risky. However, they are the sol-source engine provider on numerous military platforms and have never suggested those platforms need an extra engine.

FACT: The DoD is concerned about the performance of the extra engine program

On May 20, Secretary Gates said, “The proposed engine is based on the design they currently have on the test stand, which we are deeply concerned may not meet the performance needs of the Joint Strike Fighter.” The extra engine, which has yet to power an F-35 in flight, has only accumulated approximately 200 hours in 17 months of testing and has encountered significant technical difficulties. By contrast the F135 has logged more than 17,500 hours, has achieved government certification, has powered vertical flight operations, has delivered the last test engine and has transitioned to F135 production, already having delivered the first four production F135s for use by the warfighter.

FACT: The P&W engine is serving the JSF needs now and into the future and the DoD is concerned about the performance of the extra engine.

On May 20, Secretary Gates said, “The engine is far less mature. The proposed engine is still in development, has about 200 hours of testing compared to 13,000 for the F-135. The proposed engine is based on the design they currently have on the test stand, which we are deeply concerned may not meet the performance needs of the Joint Strike Fighter. Any cost to take the design to required JSF performance levels would presumably be paid by taxpayers.” By contrast, the F135 has logged more than 17,500 test hours, has achieved government certification, has powered vertical flight operations, has delivered the last test engine and has delivered the first four production F135s.

FACT: The DoD does not want or need the extra engine for the JSF.

Secretary Gates thinks funding the extra engine is wasteful and unnecessary. So does President George W. Bush, President Obama, 59 Republican and Democratic Senators, the Chiefs of the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, Citizens Against Government Waste, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and many more.

FACT: The extra engine is at least 5 years behind the F135, and has delayed fielding of F-35 aircraft.

The extra engine is 5-7 years behind in development, has yet to power a plane in flight and has logged only a small fraction of the hours expected for this point in their test program. In approximately 17 months of testing, the extra engine has accumulated around 200 hours compared to the more than 2,300 hours that the Pratt & Whitney F135 had accumulated at the same 17-month point. Last year, the extra engine was paid for by delaying the purchase of multiple JSF test aircraft.

FACT: Procuring the F136 will delay Air National Guard deliveries.

The remaining $2.9B needed to complete the extra engine is not included in the defense budget, and must be taken from elsewhere the DoD. Money will have to be taken away from a defense program the military needs in order to fund a program they don’t need. The Air Force and the Air National Guard needs to replace its aging fleet of fighters, bombers and tankers, and wasting $2.9B on an extra engine when their fleet modernizations are underfunded makes no sense. Whether the delay is in JSF deliveries or some other impact to fleet modernization the impact to the Air National Guard will be negative.

FACT: The international JSF partners do not want to fund an extra engine.

The international partners have stated they do not want an extra engine if it will have a negative impact on the program. Buying two engines for the JSF increases the cost to the overall program limits the international partners’ on the quantity of aircraft they can afford, and delays deliveries. Extra engine supporters claim that the original the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the International Partners assured them that they would have an engine choice. In fact, the memorandum simply stated that if there were two engines, the partners could choose.

FACT: A vote for the extra engine is Washington “business as usual".

On May 20, Secretary Gates said, “Let me be clear. I believe the defense budget process should no longer be characterized by business as usual within this building or outside of it….Accordingly, as I have stated repeatedly, should the Congress insist on adding funding for a costly and unnecessary JSF extra engine or direct changes that seriously disrupt the JSF program, or impose additional C-17 aircraft, I will strongly recommend that the president veto such legislation.” Canceling funding for the extra engine has strong bi-partisan support. The Senate sent a loud message last year when a bipartisan group of 59 Senators voted for cancellation. Funding was slipped back in during conference by certain House conferees, voted against it. However, the funding was slipped back in during conference by certain House conferees

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