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Posted: 12/20/2005 1:35:13 PM EDT
InsideDefense.com NewsStand | Christopher Castelli | December 19, 2005

The Pentagon is poised to cancel the Joint Strike Fighter's alternate engine
program, which is being developed by a team led by General Electric and
Rolls-Royce, according to a Pentagon official familiar with internal budget
documents.

Canceling this initiative would leave Pratt & Whitney, maker of the F135
engine, as the sole provider of engines for the fighters.

No decision to cut the alternate engine program has been announced by the
Defense Department. But the official, speaking on condition of anonymity,
said the plan to cancel the program and recoup $1.8 billion in the coming
years for other Air Force and Navy priorities is spelled out in an internal
budget document.

The document -- known as the third program decision memorandum -- is part of
the endgame of the Pentagon's fiscal year 2007 budget process. The memo was
issued by DOD's office of program analysis and evaluation to the armed
services in draft form last week.

JSF program spokeswoman Kathy Crawford said she could not comment on the
FY-07 budget process.

Canceling the alternate engine program would be a big departure from the
current plan of record.

In August, DOD awarded the GE and Rolls-Royce team a $2.4 billion contract
to develop its F136 engine for the JSF program. The contract is for the
system development and demonstration phase of the F136 initiative -- a phase
scheduled to run through September 2013.

GE spokesman Dan Meador said the team is continuing to work on that
contract.

The Bush administration's FY-06 budget, which is being finalized on Capitol
Hill, supports the alternate engine program. In fact, a year ago the
Pentagon confirmed it would retain the alternate engine program in another
internal directive known as program budget decision No. 753.

The White House is scheduled to send its FY-07 budget to Congress next
February. Even if the budget proposes canceling the alternate engine
program, lawmakers would have an opportunity to weigh in on the issue.

In past years, members of Congress have been proponents of maintaining two
engine developers for the JSF program.
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