What, you thought GE and Rolls-Royce were just going to give up just because the Pentagon terminated their F136 alternate engine? Nope. As Bloomberg's Roxana Tiron writes, congressional lawmakers plan to use today's scheduled budget markups to try to reanimate this zombie -- yet again. This time, Republicans want to write next year's budget in such a way as to force DoD to fund the F136 if it wants to continue funding development of the F-35. Wrote Tiron:
Representative Roscoe Bartlett, a Maryland Republican who leads the air and land forces subcommittee, proposed Tuesday as part of the bill to limit money spent on improving the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter engine unless the secretary of defense makes funds available for "two options" for the F-35 propulsion system. His panel is scheduled to debate the proposal Wednesday.Continued Tiron
Reinstating the terminated GE-Rolls-Royce program would entail having the companies fund the work themselves for at least the remainder of 2011 and during 2012, according to GE Aviation spokesman Rick Kennedy. "We expect that we are going to be asked to self-fund the program for 2011 and 2012, and we are prepared to do that," Kennedy said in a telephone interview. "It is going to require significant commitment from us." The House Armed Services Committee chairman, Representative Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, said he would seek to keep the second engine alive. Like McKeon, Bartlett also supports the development of a backup engine for the F-35.GE and Rolls-Royce are gambling they'll have enough engine supporters in the Senate to make this thing go through, otherwise they probably wouldn't be willing to spend so much of their own money keeping this development going. But with the billions of dollars they could realize if they ever do get a contract to build engines for the F-35, that seed money could look like peanuts.