UPDATED: Pratt Says Bill Not Signed Yet; GE Crows
House and Senate conferees rejected the Obama administration's mild threats and fully funded the alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter in the defense authorization bill.
Pratt & Whitney took a defiant stand. "This bill is not yet complete. The Administration's reaction might still influence the outcome," said company spokesman Jay DeFrank. The Obama administration issued wimpy language in its latest Statement of Administration Policy, saying funding for the alternate engine "could result" in a veto. And in the most recent SAP about the defense authorization bill, OMB issued this carefully calibrated threat: "If the final bill presented to the President would seriously disrupt the F-35 program, the President’s senior advisors would recommend a veto."
Since the authorizers approved additional money for the F136 and did not take any money from the F-35 program, it seems a stretch to argue that the bill "would seriously disrupt" the program. In fact, the defense authorization bill fully funds the Joint Strike Fighter program, according to an advance version of the press release we obtained.
For its part, GE was pretty pumped. "We haven't been formally notified by the conferees, but their support for completing the F136 engine development would be a victory for competition and a strong endorsement for real defense acquisition reform," said spokesman Rick Kennedy.
Here's the press summary due for release on Wednesday:
"The authorization conferees agreed to fund the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter F136 alternate engine at $560 million, with no restriction or certification requirements -- House and Senate related provisions (H 218 & 242; S 211) dropped. The conferees also agreed to fully fund the $6 billion requested for procurement of 30 F-35 aircraft, which includes 16 F-35Bs for the Marine Corps and 4 F-35Cs for the Navy and 10 F-35As for the Air Force. The conference report is expected to be taken up in the House, tomorrow."