As they comb the Hill and pitch the benefits of the second engine for the Joint Strike Fighter, General Electric is pushing one set of ideas particularly hard in the face of skepticism from the Navy and some other Pentagon sources: the F136 will not substantially increase maintenance costs.
The company shared some of its Hill talking points. One of the key points: "Assuming the Navy co-deploys the F135 and the F136, the F-35 will have interchangeable engines that have a high degree of commonality never seen before on the carrier deck."
That goes to the heart of the CNO Gary Roughead's objection that a second engine would eat up too much precious deck space.
In addition to that point, GE is also telling lawmakers and their staff that:
F135 and F136 are physically and functionally interchangeable; 50% of the engine is common (augmentor duct module and exhaust nozzle module), the other 50% is interchangeable; The Navy has continued to reduce the amount of aircraft types on the carrier deck since the mid 2000's reducing manpower, tool and support equipment requirements; The F-14A and F-14B/D have been retired…The A model used the PW TF30…the B/D used the F110…both had different tooling, training and manpower requirements S-3 retired a few years ago further reducing unique manpower and support equipment on the carrier deck The F/A-18E/F and EA-18G will use a common engine and support equipment
To demonstrate the degree of commonality between the two engines, the company says that all the shipping containers, ground handling support equipment, the vertical lift system and hand tools are 100 percent common.
On top of that, many of the servicing processes are common, the company says, including those for lifting the engine.
Finally, GE says "no additional manpower [is] required for a mixed fleet on carrier or at installation." That is aimed straight at the Navy's worries as well.