Pentagon Still Trying to Kill Second Fighter Engine

Battle escalates over House scheme to keep hated project alive.

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Bidding to finally kill development by General Electric and Rolls Royce for a second Joint Strike Fighter engine, the Pentagon is stepping up claims that the parallel project will jump the price of the jet and slow down development of the aircraft several services need.

In a letter to Sen. Joe Lieberman, whose state of Connecticut is home to the main JSF engine builder, Pratt & Whitney, Under Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter decried House Armed Services Committee language that would keep the GE engine alive, even after the House killed it and the Pentagon canceled it this year. "If enacted, this provision would scientifically delay, disrupt and increase the cost of the JSF program."

At issue are provisions in the committee bill acknowledging GE's plan to "self fund" continued development of its jet at far less than the government was paying before the House and Pentagon killed the engine program.

Carter said that the committee's plan is "simply not realistic," and he also hit a provision that would require GE to get back into a parallel development with Pratt & Whitney if major changes to engine thrust were made, a likelihood.

The fight is long from over: The Senate also has to consider the GE self-funding plan which the firm says is a way to keep competition going at a taxpayer-friendly cost.

See Carter's letter here.