The Defense Writers Group had breakfast with Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, this morning, and the senior senator was uncharacteristically lively in his assertion that the Defense Department never had a competition for the F-35's powerhouse. "I'm sure of it," Levin told reporters abruptly, causing a few of us to snap our faces up from our plates of eggs and bacon. To help prove it, he and his aides later emailed reporters the following chronology put together by the SASC's majority staff:
Has there been a competition between the Pratt & Whitney F135 and the GE/Roll Royce F136?
No. There has never been an engine competition for the Joint Strike Fighter.
· In 1996, DOD awarded competitive contracts to the airframe competitors for the JSF program, Boeing and Lockheed Martin for the concept development phase of the JSF program.· Both contractors selected a variant of the Pratt &Whitney F119 engine (the F-22 engine) as their propulsion system.
· DOD picked a single contractor (Lockheed Martin) for the JSF engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase in 2001.· Lockheed Martin maintained their selection of the P&W engine when they were awarded the EMD/systems development and demonstration (SDD) contract in 2001.
· John Roth, an official in the DOD Comptroller’s office, acknowledged that no competition was ever held in testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs hearing on May 19, 2010.· When the JSF was first conceived, it was assumed the F-22 engine (produced by P&W) would be used in the JSF.
· Citing commonality with the F-22, DOD directed the competing air vehicle contractors to use the Pratt & Whitney engine as the engine for the concept demonstration contract. · It later became clear the F-22 engine (F119) would not meet requirements for the JSF, but no competition was ever held to meet the JSF requirement.
· The government paid Pratt & Whitney to develop a derivative of the F119 engine to meet the JSF requirement. · That new Pratt & Whitney engine, called the F135, is now the primary JSF engine.