View Full Version : Gates backs veto threat over JSF engine

09-01-2009, 10:49 AM
Gates backs veto threat over JSF engine

By Anne Gearan - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Sep 1, 2009 8:22:50 EDT

FORT WORTH, Texas — The Obama administration renewed a threat Monday to veto a $680 billion defense spending bill if it includes money for two separate engines for the next-generation jet fighter, a luxury the Pentagon says it cannot afford.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, touring the Lockheed Martin Corp. plant where the first of the $100 million planes are being assembled, said there is no need for two engine suppliers.

"We have looked at the business case a number of times," Gates said. "The general conclusion is that it would cost several billion dollars in addition," and cause headaches for production down the road.

In an era of defense penny-pinching, Gates said, "We feel strongly there is not a need for the second engine."

Having an alternate supplier for one of the most expensive components of the military's next-generation fighter jet would spread defense dollars and jobs across more companies, and more congressional districts. Stripping the funding toward a second engine supplier would save $560 million.

Congressional leaders have been informed that the president's advisers would recommend a veto if the money for the second supplier stays, Gates said.

The Pentagon calls the F-35 its future workhorse, a mix-and-match platform that can do many things that now require specialized aircraft that cost billions to fine-tune.

But the F-35 is far from cheap. The Congressional Research Service estimates the F-35, also called the Joint Strike Fighter, will cost $246 billion to buy 2,456 planes for the Air Force, Navy and Marines. Including research and other initial costs in the 12-year-old program, the CRS puts the average cost of each plane at $100.1 million.

Other estimates range from $49 million to $62 million a copy when the plane is in peak production.

Congress yielded on another jet program, voting to cut off production of the F-22 as Gates had recommended.

09-01-2009, 11:03 PM
Hmm. So first they canceled F22, because they said they didn't need it(obviously not in a conflict like this). But you have to be prepared for future engagements, instead of just sitting around with your fingers crossed, hoping that nothing bad happens.

And when they canceled it, they also said, "oh well, we've got the F35 to fall back on." And now they're chopping this too?

09-01-2009, 11:18 PM
No, I think this might be a case of corporate welfare. The F-35 project originally had two power plant manufacturers competing to supply the engine for the fighter. Since its a competition, only one guy can win the contract. The only (remotely) justifiable reason why you would continue to keep two engine manufacturers involved would be in the realm of foreign sales - which is what LockMart really wants. With a pair of power plant options, buying the F-35 becomes more attractive to foreign buyers.

09-02-2009, 01:37 PM
Ah okay. I hear ya.