The Pentagon said yesterday it remained unhappy about congressional efforts to continue funding an alternate engine for the F-35 fighter.
“We’re going to be saddled yet again with an alternate engine,” Geoff Morrell, a Defense Department spokesperson, told reporters at a news conference.
The fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill signed into law by President Barack Obama on Wednesday calls for several programs the Pentagon had deemed unnecessary.
Included was the alternate F-35 fighter jet engine being built by General Electric Co and Rolls-Royce Group Plc.
Morrell said Defense Secretary Robert Gates had been on record as prepared to recommend a presidential veto of the bill if he thought funding of the second engine would seriously disrupt Lockheed Martin Corp’s overall F-35 program.
Asked if Gates would try again to kill the second engine in the next fiscal year, Morrell said: “That is the discussion that is taking place between the secretary and his budget team as they go about building the FY 11 budget request.”
He added that for 2011, “it is still very much a question as to how we proceed” on the second, interchangeable engine.
Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp, has developed the initial engine for the F-35, a radar-evading fighter in early production stages.
Backers of the alternate engine program say the competition will cut engine costs in the long run and reduce the risk of a fleet-wide grounding because of any potential design or mechanical flaw.
Pic: F35- fighter engine