Flying on One Engine, For Now

The Defense Department on Thursday took another step in its quest to kill the F136 engine by issuing a 90-day stop-work order to developers General Electric and Rolls Royce. The order goes into effect once the engine program’s funding runs out at the end of March. “In our view, [the engine] is a waste of taxpayer money that can be used to fund higher departmental priorities, and should be ended now,” stated DOD in a release. The Pentagon leadership wants to proceed with only Pratt & Whitney’s F135 to power future F-35 strike fighters and let the F136 die off. Defense officials hope that the F136 receives no more funding from Congress for the rest of Fiscal 2011 and gets no funding support at all in Fiscal 2012. The F-136, however, continues to enjoy support from key lawmakers who favor maintaining engine competition for the F-35. One of them, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), House Armed Services Committee chairman, issued a statement criticizing DOD’s move and vowing to “explore all legislative options” to keep the F136 alive. Rick Kennedy, GE Aviation spokesman, said the F-136 industry team would “self-fund the F136” through the stop-work period.