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After 15 years of ups and downs, General Electric and Rolls-Royce have accepted defeat in their battle to power the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and will today announce the end of the F136 program and the Fighter Engine Team partnership.By deciding to discontinue self-funding the F136 alternate engine they are also parting ways at an interesting time for the propulsion world. Rolls’s recent, and unexpected, rapprochement with Pratt & Whitney over commercial engines could, for instance, signal the start of new strategic links in the military engine world now that the long-lived experiment with GE is over.The move to kill the F136 comes after an Oct 31 meeting between GE Aviation leadership and Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Ashton Carter in which “it became clear that the DoD would not support the FET self-funding effort,” says GE. Although not unexpected given the Defense Department’s termination of the F136 development effort in April this year, it ends a 15-year effort to mount a competitive challenge to Pratt & Whitney’s incumbent F135 engine for the F-35. With almost 80% of the development complete at the time of the DoD announcement, and with about $3 billion in federal funding already spent on the effort, GE and Rolls had both vowed to continue the fight by self-funding the F136 through fiscal year 2012. However, GE says Carter’s position “made future progress on the F136 development program difficult. In addition, the status of the federal budget has created greater uncertainty for the overall JSF program.” Before the program was terminated, six F136 development engines had accumulated more than 1,200 hours of testing since early 2009. GE says that throughout its development time “the FET consistently delivered on cost and on schedule, and was rewarded with high marks by the Department of Defense in a successful joint venture between GE and Rolls-Royce.”
ar99, GE, RR, F136, F-35, JSF
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