UPDATED: GE/RR Launch F136 YouTube Site, Appeal For Support As HAC-D Meets
UPDATE: The Obama Administration's bluff has been called by the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, which voted 11-5 this afternoon in favor of funding the F136 engine for the Joint Strike Fighter. The vote tally comes from unofficial sources.
The congressional calculus on the F136 has grown so complex it would take a political physicist to figure out just how likely the engine is to survive. The chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, Rep. Norm Dicks, says he will not put funding for the second Joint Strike Fighter engine in his bill. But it looks as if his fellow subcommittee members want it in and Dicks isn't saying no -- at least not publicly. The closed markup is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. today
So the engine may get funded by the House. But in the Senate, which has always been more problematic for the GE-Rolls Royce coalition, the F136 appears to have lost the support of one of its staunchest friends, Sen. Daniel Inouye, also known as the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He told the New York Times that the deficit and the opposition of the Obama administration mean the F136 is dead.
That doesn't mean that the wily senator from Hawaii won't bow to his House colleagues in conference, as he did last year. But it certainly sends a strong signal to GE-RR supporters that they must redouble their efforts to have any hope of salvaging the program.
To that end, a "Dear Colleague" letter went out yesterday from the chairman and the ranking member of the House Acquisition Reform Panel, in which they "strongly encourage" their colleagues to support the engine in the interests of competition. They tie the second engine to acquisition reform and say a second engine program is in the best interests of those who support acquisition reform and savings on major weapons programs.