A newly-elected Ohio congresswoman announced May 2 that the House Armed Services Committees Air and Land Forces Subcommittee had restored funding for the Joint Strike Fighter alternate engine program.
Every year, the Pentagon zeros out funding for the costly earmark, and each year lawmakers representing districts that have a vested interest re-insert the cash.
It would be one thing if the pork could swim around the bloated defense bill as an eight-figure vote-getter, losing itself in a myriad of such programs inserted into the bill without a Pentagon request. But the alternate engine program is on a nearly half-billion dollar life support system that sucks a chunk of funds away from needs the Air Force claims are more urgent.
How many more MRAP vehicles could the Pentagon buy to protect forces in Iraq with the $480 million Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) says will result in lower acquisition costs; reduced development and operational risk; and long term savings in life cycle costs?
Thats right - at about $1 million a pop, the Army and Marine Corps could use that money to buy nearly 500 of the IED-resistant vehicles. Not to mention how that money could be put to use in the Air Forces $17 billion unfunded priorities list like A-10 upgrades ($37 million) and force protection equipment for Airmen ($250 million).
And there has been no good case made to justify that continuing to fund the development of GEs F136 engine for the F-35 Lightning II JSF will somehow reduce life cycle costs and be in the interest of the America taxpayer. What evidence is there that the Pratt and Whitney engine isnt any good and that another engine is needed?
General Electric Aviation is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.
With the F-35 program nearing IOC, youd think this line of reasoning would have played out. But yet again, lawmakers in the House have agreed to keep the alternate engine program alive, bucking the Air Force in one area the service has continually vowed to save money.
"General Electric has worked tirelessly to develop the alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter, I am very pleased the Committee continued to authorize this program, important to both our national security and the greater Cincinnati economy," Congresswoman Schmidt said.
"Today is another good day for Cincinnati," Schmidt concluded.