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  • Chutzpah Redefined
    Posted by Bill Sweetman 1:25 PM on Jul 14, 2009

    The classic definition of chutzpah is to murder your parents with an axe, then plead for mercy on the grounds that you are an orphan. Pratt & Whitney's campaign to prevent Congress from reinstating the GE/Rolls-Royce alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter may be viewed in the same light by the House Armed Services Committee.

    blog post photo
    F136 engine (GE-RR)

    Ares has discussed this issue extensively. See this post for some of the basics. Some recent GE comments are here

    In the report language accompanying its mark-up of the FY2010 defense authorization (pages 201-203), HASC presents an unflattering comparison of the two engine programs, based on testimony by JSF program leaders. P&W's F135 engine development program has overrun its planned development cost by 38 per cent, $1.87 billion in then-year dollars, since the program started.

    That's mostly water under the bridge: the worse news is that "the F-35 program manager has reported an increase of approximately 38 to 43 percent in F135 engine procurement cost estimates between December 2005 and December 2008" - that is, in just the last three years as the program has started to transition into production. (I'm sure this isn't why former program boss Gen. Charles Davis started leaving the engine out of JSF price estimates early this year.) 

    That number, by the way, is for the F-35A and F-35C - the increase for the B is 47 per cent, due to larger overruns in the cost of producing the lift system. 

    "Conversely, the [GE/Rolls-Royce] F136 engine program has not experienced any cost growth since its inception," the HASC adds.

    The lawmakers believe that the impact of funding the F136 would not be as devastating to the F-35 effort as program director Gen David Heinz has suggested. The overall goal for FY2010 is to boost F-35 production by 75 per cent, the committee has been told, and this can be achieved with 28 US-funded aircraft (rather than the 30 in the budget) plus one each paid for by the UK and Netherlands. That two-airframe cut would release enough money to fund the F136.

    The HASC's overall reaction to the DoD's apparent determination to kill the added engine" "The committee is perplexed." 

    Me too.

    Tags: ar99, F135, F136, JSF

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