March 5, 2023

Congressman Jim Moran: Keep Funding the JSF Alternate Engine

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is four years behind schedule and nearly $150 billion over budget. It comes as no surprise to many who have been following the F-35’s progress that the jet’s current engine, the F-135, faces similar challenges. In fact, the F-135 is now 50% more expensive than its 2001 cost estimate. Just this month it was reported the engine may require another $1 billion to complete.

Last week the House of Representatives approved legislation that would kill the development of one of the few cost control mechanisms remaining for this procurement: the F-136 engine. At the heart of the debate is whether or not Congress is willing to complete the upfront development costs of the F-136, which are estimated to be up to $950 million by the manufacturer. Even though the department has struggled to control the cost growth of this program, we are penny wise and pound foolish in refusing to invest in resources that are projected to save up to $20 billion dollars over the life of the fighter.

I agree with Secretary Gates on many issues, his judgment is usually spot on. But his position of the alternate engine is baffling given that analyses provided by the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have each concluded that investing in competition within the F-35 engine program would be budget neutral and could even save money over the life of the program. Further, funding the F-136 offers non-financial benefits that the DoD enjoyed through competition in the F-16 fighter program. These include the following: improved engine performance, enhanced safety and operational readiness, increased contractor responsiveness and innovation, and a sustained industrial base for future aircraft programs.

Those who cite the F-136 as an “earmark” ignore the fact that development of a second engine for the F-35 was an integral part of the program of record, and was fully funded by the DoD until its fiscal year 2007 budget submission. Some also cite the F-136’s British lineage as an “outsourcing” of American jobs, while remaining silent on the fact that some components of the F-135 will be produced in Turkey and Poland. Finally, both the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act and the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review both highlight the importance of competition throughout the life of major weapons programs for all of the benefits I have mentioned.

Cutting unnecessary spending is responsible. I have embraced Secretary Gates’ efforts to reduce the rate of growth of the DoD budget through his efficiency initiatives. However, with regard to sustained competition in the F-35 program, I disagree strongly with efforts to block investment in the F-136.

Congressman Jim Moran, a Democrat, represents the 8th district of Virginia.



  1. Scott Carriere says:

    The concern I have is anything “GE” is in bed with unions, Obama, Soros, (CEOmelt) and other socialist anti-freedom mindsets. I believe Obamas picture of GE as “Government Energy” and as all communist plan is to kill capatilism for a state run control, a money power and greed fest. If the engine is as great as stated, let the private industries develope it on their dime with private investor incentives. Prove it works and reap the rewards….Government run anything always fails, The Capitalistic great AMERICAN WAY always prevails.

  2. Rick Laviolette says:

    “….Government run anything always fails, The Capitalistic great AMERICAN WAY always prevails.”

    All defense department technology comes from government funded programs. The A-10 Wart Hog came in under cost and under budget, was integral in Iraq as an anti-tank weaponry. Its company was kindled by the defense department and the money came out of their company’s pocket. This company should have been salvaged by the DOD. The Warthog proved tried and true. Since then, they were the most cost effective defense project ever. They were not funded by the DOD and the company went bankrupt. Their talent (skilled laborers) were picked up by other sources just the way Europe, Japan and China picked up the 247,000 high tech scientists and engineers after President Nixon hacked out our Space Program employees. This setback our 35 year lead in the space program to “nil” today. China is now the main source of new space missions. It seems that everyone but you Tea Partiers, realize that whoever controls near Earth space and skies, controls the world.
    The most expensive economic “Train Wreck” in U.S. History, came from President Ronald Reagan with his “Star Wars” Projects. The U.S. experienced a mere 3% GNP gain while burning up a massive $5 trillion dollar debt above and beyond the entire $22 trillion (annual) earnings of the country during that time. The deficit of 3 republican presidents, is the principal obstacle to this fighter engine development today. It is currently being canned by the Tea Party morons because of this countries debt. It is not because of unions or “favoring” American business. US politicians parted out U.S. defense contracts from American companies to International concerns that market WMD to many NATO countries and 3rd world dictators. (Their political palms were greased immeasurably for it.) Typical of this was Iraq which fought our own military with equipment sold to them by these same sources.
    Many of the military projects are developed by DARPA, the secret military development branchof the U.S. government. These projects cannot be trusted to any “Free Capitalist bidding war” the risk of technology leaks are too great and it has to be tightly DOD controlled. Technology is the only advantage in a world where we are out numbered.
    China’s new stealth fighters and bombers, their silent run series of nuclear submarines and weaponry components were sanctioned by policies of Presidents Reagan, Bush and Bush Jr. This was done because they funded contractors that supplied technology to the chinese. This allowed for their global distribution. It is similar to President Eisenhower releasing nuclear secrets to everyone. Whenever this happens, the military has to adapt and often our soldiers pay the ultimate price for it.
    Your “free and open capitalism” by the way, has currently 1,000,000 standing troops worldwide so you can run your patriotic ******** mouth and wave your chinese made, American flag. Without these troops, the products dumping into state’s “tax free zones” for foreign products and energy would grind to a screaching halt. These are freedoms that American businesses and taxpayers have to pay for and the international companies are winning. U.S. companies do have union workers and there right to work companies. U.S. companies are the principal employers of returning American veterans and do so without discrimination. I think we can trust our veterans with our military secrets over “veterans” that shot them just a few years ago. Foreign companies like the Japanese, only allow promotions of non-japanese to reach a certain level within their corporations. Korea limits the global market to less than 5% of their own market while 95% of their economy is exported to the United States and Europe. Why should they have US military contracts and make ballot machines for the American voter? Those ballot machines were “tamperable” resulting in a Supreme court ruling during the President Bush election for miscounting in 7 states. (SEE: “Stealing Democracy”)
    You are not holding America in our best interest with these types of rant. It will bury the American dream, not promote it. It is past Republican policy costing us now, not this engine contract. Without 40 cents interest on each dollar of debt, we could pay for a lot of jet engine projects. I would take a JFK over any of your idiots.

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