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US Government Committee Endorses Competitive Approach on JSF Propulsion

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GE Aviation
: 21 May, 2010  (Company News)
GE Aviation has applauded moves by the House Armed Services Committee to endorse annual direct competition on the propulsion system for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
The full US House Armed Services Committee (HASC) has led the charge for defence acquisition reform by voting on a National Defence Authorization Bill that includes $485 million in continued funding for the GE/Rolls-Royce F136 engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

By authorizing funding in fiscal year 2011 for the F136 – the competing JSF engine already more than 70 percent through its development – the Committee strongly endorsed an annual, head-to-head competition to the F-35 propulsion system, which avoids a decades-long, $100 billion engine monopoly being handed to a sole-source provider.

HASC Subcommittee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Washington) emphasized that “the Pentagon’s own study on F-35 engine options indicated it would cost no more to reduce operational risk and achieve the benefits of a competitive engine program, than to fund a sole source engine program.”

Ranking HASC member Roscoe Bartlett (R-Maryland) said he was pleased the bill included “funding necessary to continue development for an alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter. Competition is warranted and critical and costs nothing more according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).”

The GAO recently estimated that competition between the two F-35 engine makers could lead to long-term savings of up to 21 percent for the $100 billion engine program.

For 15 years, a bipartisan Congress has supported and funded the GE/Rolls-Royce engine to preserve competition on the largest weapons procurement program in history. Competing engines have been an integral component of the JSF program from its inception, and competitive behavior has proven to control costs.

Today’s Congressional action is also consistent with the mandate of the Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009, signed by President Obama, which calls for competition throughout the life cycle of major weapon systems programs – including funding of competing sources. Competition, a consistent theme in the Reform Act, is highlighted 20 times.

“We applaud the HASC action today,” said David Joyce, president and CEO of GE Aviation. “Given the enormity of the JSF program, competing engines on the aircraft is the best way to put the acquisition reform act into action. With the growing concern over cost overruns in defense programs, competition continues to be the best cost-control mechanism.”

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program creates the perfect opportunity - a multi-role aircraft replacing numerous tactical fighter aircraft, with potential production for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marines and international customers to reach 5,000 to 6,000 aircraft over 30 years.

The Pratt & Whitney F135 development for JSF is estimated to grow 50 percent beyond its original contract, from $4.8 billion to $7.3 billion, according to a recent report from the GAO, adding, “F135 engine development cost increases primarily resulted from higher costs for labour and materials, supplier problems, and the rework needed to correct deficiencies with an engine blade during re-design.”

The GE-Rolls Royce F136 engine is a product of the best technology from two world-leading propulsion companies. The GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team has designed the only engine specifically developed for the F-35 aircraft, offering extra temperature margin and affordable growth. F136 engine development is being led at GE Aviation in Evendale, Ohio (Cincinnati suburb), and at Rolls-Royce in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The F-35 is a 5th-generation, multi-role aircraft designed to replace the AV-8B Harrier, A-10, F-16, F/A-18 Hornet and the United Kingdom’s Harrier GR.7 and Sea Harrier, all of which are currently powered by GE or Rolls-Royce.
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