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Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) seems happy to have lost the argument – for now – over whether to fund the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s alternate engine program. Levin, who is in favor of the GE-RR F136 to compete with the incumbent P&W F135, told Aviation Week he was just doing his job as chairman when he defended the Senate’s decision in conference negotiations with House counterparts.Those negotiations concluded overnight, and as soon as both chambers pass the agreement, Congress looks set to begin trying to thread the veto needle by authorizing and appropriating for the F136 as long as it doesn’t come out of the greater JSF program’s expense. Assuming appropriators go along with the outside-JSF-funding stipulation – and they would be asking for trouble if they don’t, at this point – we might just have seen the climax of JSF engine haggling until a formal competition mid-next decade decides who really has the better, cheaper engine.Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the ranking Republican on the SASC, was not as sanguine over continuing the F136. In a formal news conference with Levin off the Senate floor, McCain explained that the F136 was a major House priority, and – my words here, not McCain’s – considering everything else they got in the bill, a compromise was reached. McCain stressed that it was now up to appropriators to follow the unofficial compromise so that President Barack Obama does not veto defense bills, as he has threatened he would if the F136 came at the expense of the fighter program.
ar99, JSF, engine
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