The General Electric-Rolls Royce team says Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ arguments last week on Capitol Hill against continuing F136 engine work for the F-35 strike fighter are way off base. In a point-by-point rebuttal, the partners claim, for example, that the F136 program would not require an additional $2.5 billion over the next five years as Gates told Senate lawmakers on Feb. 2. (He cited $2.9 billion the next day to House members.) Instead, the companies say, “far less” would be required: about $1.3 billion to complete the engine’s development and cover the additional costs associated with tooling and support infrastructure. And contrary to Gates’ claim that none of the planned F-35 users really wants to have two engine suppliers, they said that all of the international partners signed the F-35 memorandum of understanding that “recognizes competing engines as a key [F-35] feature.” (Gates on F136) (GE-Rolls Royce statement)