Put Up, Why Dontcha?

The Air Force isn’t breaking with tradition in embracing a single engine type for the F-35 strike fighter, Gen. Norton Schwartz, USAF’s Chief of Staff, said Tuesday. Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Schwartz noted that the Air Force operates the F-22 fleet with a single type of engine—Pratt & Whitney’s F119—and the Navy operates its F/A-18 fleet with only the General Electric F404. Thus, it’s “not unprecedented,” he said, that the DOD wants to rule out a second, competitive engine for the F-35 by moving forward solely with Pratt’s F135 and cancelling the GE-Rolls Royce F136. “I don’t deny that competition might well result in some savings over the long run,” said Schwartz. He continued, “The question is whether we can afford it in the short term. And I have to be candid: if Rolls and GE are so confident that their product [the F136] will succeed and bring value to the taxpayer, . . . it would be nice if they put a little bit more against that $1.9 billion bill that they’d like the taxpayers to underwrite.”