Throwing in the Towel

The long battle between the Pentagon and Congress over development of a second engine type for the F-35 strike fighter appears to be over, once and for all. General Electric and Rolls Royce, partners in the Fighter Engine Team, announced that they will cease self-funding the maturation of their F136 engine at year’s end due to “continued uncertainty in the development and production schedules” for the F-35. “GE and Rolls-Royce are proud of our technology advancements and accomplishments on the F136,” said Dan McCormick, FET president, in the Dec. 2 release. “However,” he added, “difficult circumstances are converging that impact the potential benefit of a self-funded development effort.” After DOD terminated the F136 contract in April—in favor of proceeding solely with Pratt & Whitney’s F135 that is powering F-35s flying today—GE and Rolls Royce said they’d continue funding the F136’s development on their own dime through the end of Fiscal 2012. The companies anticipated that with continued political support on Capital Hill for F-35 engine competition, they’d be able to offer the F136 for future F-35 production lots. But it appears the F136’s death knell has now sounded. Click here for more.