Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday laid down the same line in the sand as he did on Monday at the Pentagon and on Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, telling House lawmakers that he would “strongly recommend” that President Obama veto any Fiscal 2011 legislation that sustains the F136 engine for the F-35 strike fighter. Appearing before the House Armed Services Committee, Gates said the focus should be on getting the F135, the other engine type for the F-35, done right. Keeping the F136 engine program alive for the next five fiscal years would end up costing the Defense Department another $2.9 billion that is needed elsewhere on top of the $1.8 billion that the Congress has already pumped into the project in the past several years over the Pentagon’s objections, he said. The Pentagon’s Fiscal 2011 budget proposal seeks to cancel the F136.
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.