HASC Calls Gates on F136

In an early show of strength, Hill supporters of the F136 have made very clear to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Obama administration that they will continue to support the second engine program for the Joint Strike Fighter. While the letter, signed by the committee's chairman and ranking member with their counterparts on the HASC air and land forces subcommittee, starts off with nice words about their "great respect" for Gates' "judgement and the sincerity of your position," it quickly goes on to slam the Pratt & Whitney engine.

In an early show of strength, Hill supporters of the F136 have made very clear to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Obama administration that they will continue to support the second engine program for the Joint Strike Fighter.

While the letter, signed by the committee’s chairman and ranking member with their counterparts on the HASC air and land forces subcommittee, starts off with nice words about their “great respect” for Gates’ “judgment and the sincerity of your position,” it quickly goes on to slam the Pratt & Whitney engine: “We will not detail here the accumulated testing failures, required redesigns, major cost growth and repeated delays experienced this far with the baseline engine. We simply note that, in our view, these problems bolster the case for a competing alternative engine.”

However, the lawmakers are willing to listen — being decent and rational beings — so they ask Gates to provide the “business case” analysis that he has cited in the 2011 budget hearings, and which they say the committee requested after Gates first mentioned it in August 2009. Given all this, barring some whopper of a study that demolishes the case for a second engine beyond all refutation, I think it’s safe to say that the House defense authorizers will call the Obama administration’s bluff and include the General Electric and Rolls Royce F136 in their bill.

Of course, Gates never said the president would veto the bill. Just that he would recommend to the president that it be vetoed.