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F136 Team Hopeful On HAC-D

Farnborough Air Show -- The F136 team is pretty confident that the House Appropriations defense subcommittee will support their program but they think the final vote may not happen until after Labor Day.

Those are the views of Jean Lydon-Rodgers, the chairwoman of the GE/Rolls Royce partnership building the second engine for the Joint Strike Fighter. While no one is certain which way the subcommittee chairman Rep. Norm Dicks will vote, Lydon-Rodgers and her team said the chairman is "open" to their arguments, echoing comments we have heard from Hill sources.

On the Senate side, Lydon-Rodgers sounded less certain, though she told reporters at a briefing here that the company has made energetic efforts to "educate" senators and they had proven very open to the GE/RR arguments.

While the GE/RR team is pushing hard to attain program of record status -- which would guarantee them a budget line and require the Pentagon to decide each year how much money to put in that line -- they made it clear they know that they are going to win in Congress, not in the Pentagon. The absence of program of record status is weighing on the JSF international partners, who worry about the uncertainty. Lydon-Rodgers said the partners are "becoming much more vocal" about their support for competition against Pratt & Whitney's F135 increasingly assertive about competition in part because of the programmatic uncertainty.

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