Home > posts > Pentagon: The Supposedly “Self-Funded” Duplicate F-35 Engine Will Eventually Leave Taxpayers on the Hook
July 1st, 2011 10:39 am
Pentagon: The Supposedly “Self-Funded” Duplicate F-35 Engine Will Eventually Leave Taxpayers on the Hook
Posted by Print

Remember the wasteful duplicate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Figher that just wouldn’t die?

Or, more accurately, that appropriators refused to let die?

Pratt & Whitney won the contract to produce the F-35 engine fair and square.  But forces in Congress continued to promote a wasteful alternative version developed by General Electric/Rolls-Royce.  The Pentagon doesn’t want the duplicate engine.  The Senate voted it down.  The House voted it down.  The Bush White House sought to stop it.  Even the infamously spendthrift Obama White House has sought to stop it.

Most recently, General Electric/Rolls-Royce claimed to offer to “self-fund” development of the duplicate engine for the next few years.  The problem is that “self-funding” is a scheme to eventually place American taxpayers on the hook at a later date.  That is the conclusion of none other than Ashton Carter, Defense Department Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.  Responding to an inquiry from Senator Joe Lieberman, Carter confirmed that allowing the duplicate engine to continue would eventually mean government funding:

Regarding ‘self-funding,’ as you know, the Department estimates that developing the F136 engine and preparing it for completion would cost $480 million in Fiscal Year 2012 and would take six years and $2.9 billion to complete.  Unless this full expense is covered by the F136 contractor, the ‘self-funded’ effort would simply be a means to reestablish government funding for development of the F136 at a later date.  Furthermore, in order to ensure that the engine was truly self-funded by the contractor, Section 252 would need to state that any and all costs associated with the further development of the F136 engine and preparation for competition would be unrecoverable directly or indirectly in any present (via overhead charges) or future contract with the US Government.  This would extend the prohibition against the Government paying for the support or use of the Government’s property to the contractor’s costs for developing the F136 engine and preparing it for completion.

The Department appreciates your support for the JSF program and your interest in ensuring its success.  It is our firm view that Sections 215 and 252 would significantly impede this objective.”

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will help ensure American air superiority into the future, but it is also the largest acquisition program in Defense Department history.  We simply cannot afford to let the wasteful duplicate engine proposal to continue jeopardizing the program’s vitality and cost-efficiency.

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