In a renewed effort to end the F-35 strike fighter alternate engine program (see Nonstealthy Maneuver, above), Defense Secretary Robert Gates offered a somewhat different argument against the F136 engine. He told House lawmakers Wednesday that spending extra billions to maintain two engines for the F-35 just doesn’t make sense since only one of the planned F-35 operators—the Air Force—might potentially reap some gain. He told the House Armed Services Committee that he doesn’t think any other F-35 customer at home or abroad really wants to have two engine types for its F-35s since that entails a larger logistics footprint for all, but especially for ship-based F-35s. And so the issue really comes down to whether it is worth it to spend the extra billions just so the Air Force can choose from the two engines. For Gates, the answer is no.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.