Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Secretary Gates on the Extra Engine, May 2010

SEC. GATES: The Bush administration opposed this engine. The Obama administration opposes it. We have recommended for several years now against funding this engine, considering it a waste of money. And 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.

Let me just say we think -- with respect to the -- to the proposal for the alternate engine, we think the proposal is based on unrealistic cost estimates. 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.

The proposal does provide a fixed price, but not for the engine we need. 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.

The current engine -- their current engine, the alternate engine proposal, the engine is far less mature than the JSF engine. The proposed engine is still in development, has about 200 hours of testing compared to 13,000 for the F-135. Even the immature engines in the proposal would be more expensive than the JSF engine during the critical period of the program. And finally, the GE proposal assumes receiving a guaranteed buy of over half the JSF engines for three years in order to allow them to catch up.

As I've said before, only in Washington does a proposal where everybody wins get considered a competition, where everybody is guaranteed a piece of the action at the end. Yeah, we're in favor of competition. But my idea of competition is winner takes all, and we don't have that kind of a situation here.

Q Is there a safety readiness and operational readiness concern that the alternate engine may actually boost operational readiness?

SEC. GATES: I don't think that anybody -- I haven't heard that argument by anybody.

ADM. MULLEN: I mean, I have no concern. The services have not expressed that concern. We've flown with single engines historically and done so very well.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen on the Extra Engine

Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen testifies before the House Armed Services Committee on February 16, 2011

ADM. MULLEN: One of the things that we do in this town is we focus on getting stuff out the door as opposed to what it costs for life cycle. And this -- and it certainly applies on aircraft carriers, but it applies actually in all three services. This is two separate lines, two separate training, two separate maintenance manuals, two separate supply sources, all those kinds of things. And they lag each other significantly. I mean, I've been doing money a long time. I cannot make sense out of this second engine. It is two to three years behind. It's not going to compete, quite frankly.

We cannot afford to buy the second engine, I mean, from my perspective. And there have been multiple airplanes that are single- engine airplanes that are single source.

So I don't accept it; 95 percent of the fleet is going to go down at once. It just doesn't happen. We're better than that. If -- you know, the first engine will be, I think, more than adequate to meet the needs that we have for that airplane. And if I thought any different, I would, you know, be encouraging this engine, the second engine. I just categorically can't see that it's going to make any difference. It's going to cost us a lot of money, not just to get it out at the door, but over the life of its -- over the life cycle.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rep. Joe Courtney and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen Discuss the Extra Engine

Vote YES on Rooney-Larson

Today’s House vote on the Rooney-Larson Amendment to H.R. 1 offers the first true test of Washington’s seriousness towards cutting deficits and ending earmarks. Fiscal conservatives are unanimous in supporting this Amendment, and many will be scoring it for their annual ratings of Congress:

American Action Forum’s Doug Holtz-Eakin: "Buying two engines is not real competition and does not lower costs. It is a test of the spending discipline of both parties to defeat this amendment." (2/15/2011)

National Taxpayer’s Union: “A ‘YES’ vote on the Rooney-Larson-Westmoreland-Pingree-Griffin Amendment to H.R. 1 will be significantly weighted as a pro-taxpayer vote in our annual Rating of Congress.” (2/15/2011)

Americans for Tax Reform: “The CR currently contains funding for the wasteful Joint Strike Fighter F136 alternative engine, a program the Department of Defense has routinely argued it doesn't need or want.” (2/15/2011)

Freedom Works: “The current engine for the JSF has already proven to be sufficient for our defense needs, spending over $2.5 billion on an additional engine is wasteful and unnecessary.” (2/15/2011)

American Conservative Union’s David Keene: “The three billion dollars that supporters of this program are seeking for a favored contractor through the earmark process is money that the White House and the Pentagon under both Republican and Democratic Presidents feel does not need to be spent for any valid national security or defense purpose.”

Citizen’s Against Government Waste: “The decision on funding the alternate engine will be one of many tests to determine whether the talk about cutting waste by the incoming House Republican majority is rhetoric or reality.” (12/22/2010)

Cal Thomas (USA Today): “The alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter is the military’s version of a Bridge To Nowhere.” (8/26/2010)

Vote YES on Rooney-Larson.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rachel Maddow talks Extra Engine

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Three (More) Wrongs Still Don’t Make A Right

Poor General Electric. Sure, they generated $150 billion in revenue last year, squirreled away $79 billion in cash and equivalents, as well as boast $175 billion in backlog (which sure is a lot of light bulbs and dishwashers). But forget all that, not to mention the double-digit growth year on year. Instead, GE sheds crocodile tears over the “barrage of attacks” they’ve apparently suffered while trying to justify the unwanted, unnecessary and unaffordable F136 extra engine.

GE’s response has been swift, though it’s come from the rhetoric department, rather than engineering. While Pratt & Whitney’s F135 continues to power every F-35 flight and the F136 languishes on the test stand, GE has turned up the heat (they make nifty ovens too) through an ad campaign that sadly falls far short of the term self-cleaning. So let’s debunk three of the most egregious myths.

One frequent refrain of recent GE/Rolls-Royce ads concerns a so-called $100 billion monopoly. In fact, page 9 of a GAO report dated March 24, 2010 lists the figure at $60 billion, half of which is sustainment often performed at government depots. Of the remaining $40 billion, only about $20 billion covering initial engines and spares would be available for competition.

Another misleading claim is that F-35 competition will save $20 billion. The closest GAO comes to estimating savings is that “it may be reasonable to expect savings of” 10-12%. Applied to our $20 billion figure above, maximum savings would be $2.4 billion during 25 years of production. In reality, the extra cost of fielding two engines in a 50/50 split buy environment will likely negate any savings.

Last, but sadly not least, is the spurious charge about a $2.5 billion F135 cost overrun. The fact is $1.7 billion of this alleged cost growth comes from new scope directed by the government. Of the remaining $800M, approximately one third is attributed to the lift system hardware developed by Rolls-Royce as a subcontractor to Pratt & Whitney for the F-35B STOVL variant. The same Rolls-Royce who is partnered with GE on the F136! Wonder what that says about the future cost growth of the extra engine!

We could go on, but to read our previous myth debunking blogs about competition, risk and the industrial base, please click here.

Put aside the clever visuals, headlines and body copy and some basic facts remain irrefutable. First, the F135 was chosen through marketplace competition at the contractor level years ago. Second, its performance since that time has garnered all necessary government certifications. Third, two presidents representing both major parties, their secretaries of defense and senior leaders in the Pentagon have all advocated killing the F136. Fourth, one engine provider is the norm for DOD aircraft, a situation that has given GE roughly 75% of the military engine business from Apache helicopters to F/A-18 fighter jets.

Such a dominant position should allow GE to put away the handkerchief and perhaps discontinue using the “hot air fluff cycle” too.

– EagleBlogger

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Connecticut Machinists Urge Congress To Cancel the Extra Engine

Dear Members of Congress:

On behalf of thousands of hard-working members of District 26 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, we urge you to end funding the extra engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. We understand that as a part of the FY11 budget process there may be an opportunity to vote on this program and we ask that you stand with President Obama and our Secretary of Defense, reject funding wasteful earmarks and stop spending on this unwanted and unaffordable extra engine.

As Americans, we are proud and unwavering supporters of our military and securing a strong national defense. As taxpayers, we are determined that our dollars be spent responsibly. As union members, we are committed to preserving U.S. jobs. The facts show that the FI35 meets these criteria; the extra engine does not.

If the extra engine is funded, it will take much needed funds from the development of the F35, further delaying its completion. In the process, new jobs will not be created; they will simply shift from the F135 to the F136. This will most certainly have a negative impact on our workforce and U.S. jobs because a full 40 percent of the extra engine is projected to be manufactured by Rolls-Royce in the U.K. The result: almost half of the extra engine’s jobs will be moved offshore. With thousands of aerospace jobs expected to be lost in the U.S. due to the projected end of the F-22 program this year, backing an unwanted program that will negatively impact the skill base of the U.S. aerospace industry and related jobs is counter to the interests of America’s working men and women and our membership.

Meanwhile, we are pleased to report that the FI35 is doing its job well while reducing costs, generating U.S. jobs and preventing Congress from having to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on an extra engine earmark that according to the military is not needed, wanted and a waste of money. We are particularly proud that our engine is in full production, flying flawlessly on the aircraft and is within budget parameters.

Given the F135’s performance, it is hard to make the case to delay the program and spend more for a second competition – as GE/Rolls-Royce is now demanding. The fact is, in 1995 there was a competition for the F-35 engine and the three prime contractors unanimously selected the F135 engine over GE’s. GE lost the bidding process and did not appeal the Air Force’s award.

We hope we can count on you to stand up for American jobs and end wasteful earmarks. At a time when we are all concerned about cutting the deficit and saving U.S. jobs, ending the funding for the extra engine is the right thing to do.


Everett C. Corey, Directing Business Representative, I.A.M.A.W District 26

James Parent, President, Connecticut State Council of Machinists

Thursday, February 3, 2011

F-35B BF-5 First Flight takeoff

F-35B BF-5 First Flight takeoff

The last Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II assigned to developmental flight testing departs Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base on its first flight Thursday, January 27, 2011.

The F135 Engine is the ONLY engine powering the Joint Strike Fighter through all of its flight testing.