Skelton Disses Gates’ F136 Study

Skelton Disses Gates’ F136 Study

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee called Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ principal arguments against the F136 “short-sighted” and largely dismissed them.

Skelton, who was joined by the leadership of his committee in asking Gates for the s-called “business case” study, issued this statement:

“Yesterday, I was finally provided with a copy of the ‘business case’ upon which Secretary Gates based his decision to oppose the development of the competitive engine for the F-35. While the committee is still reviewing the analysis, it appears that the Department’s approach focuses on near-term costs to the exclusion of what the committee sees as the long-term benefits of this program. The costs of the second engine in the next few years must be balanced against the fact that life-cycle costs of having two engines are comparable to having only one. The Department’s analysis does not consider the risk that a single engine would present not only to our fighter force, but to our national security, given that the F-35 will account for 95 percent of our nation’s fighter fleet. With this program, as with all others, we cannot use near-sighted vision when long-term security is at stake. I look forward to continuing the dialogue on this program with my colleagues and the Department of Defense. But I remain unconvinced that terminating the alternate engine program makes sense.”


Rep. Norm Dicks, chair of the HAC-D, will probably have the next word in this debate.

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“Short-sighted vision” and the F-35 program go together like peas and carrots.

BCA’s from OSD and the branches are rarely worth a darn. No surprises here.

What a surprise, Gates and company unable to plan or think beyond next week.

The F-35 is starting weigh like a boat anchor on the Sec.Def, and its only going to get worse with the impending Nunn-McCurdy breach in the near future.

Does a house of cards make a sound when it falls?

Negativity is stupidity f-35 makes sense two engines makes sense Positivity is much more productive !!!!!!

Build a fighter plane and create interchangability with parts and create and enhance it over time to be the greastest , having a bunch a different planes with no true focus is stupidity !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If the second engine is so crucial — and it costs so little to complete — Let GE and RR fund the alternate engine. Let them share in the risk, as well as the benefit. I bet Gates would let if go forward if GE and RR, very large corporations who could afford to develop the engine on their own nickel, did so.

The second engine source will only become a jobs program for GE, but it could produce a more
powerful commercial engine for the commercial airliner fleet. The issue of jobs seems to be driving decisions in congress right now, not national security.

There’s a lot of static in the air about two producers of anything. Let’s think about it. For example, on the issue of maintaining two sets of engines and supply chains. False. If the a Navy aircraft carrier stocked 100 P&W engines and component parts, as long as they are truly interchangable, they could also stock 50 P&W and 50 GE/RR in the same space. Same with any land based supply chain. So, we’re not talking about 100 P&W and 50 GE/RR and needing more space. Same space. Same total quantity.

Second example. Unit costs. Based on experience all contractors build manufacturing processes and cost structures to favor themselves, not the government (read: taxpayer). Yearly, head-to-head price competition drives down that unit cost, removing the excess costs we would not otherwise capture. Current Pentagon pricing models do a very poor job of estimating this effect. I know. I fought with NAVSEA, NAVAIR and SPAWAR cost estimates for years. They were never right once the marketplace was open to competition.

Note: To Captain Skelton of the unsinkable USS Economy.

Thanks for the long-range thinking but there’s an iceberg dead ahead.

It might just be time to take the hard dollar savings now instead of counting on “supposed” savings down the road.

First example: Problem is they aren’t truly interchangeable, only the engine to aircraft interfaces are.
Second example: Has GE’s F110 for the F/A-18 or Pratt’s F119 for the F-22 gone down in price? If they have then your example is out to lunch. If they haven’t then your right.

K-Bar
The F136 cost isn’t an Iceberg…its a snow cone. The USS Economy will survive the hit…especially considering the positive cash flow savings generated long term.

Perhaps GE should have stuck with a development of the variable-cycle F120 engine instead of the “new” F136.

The problem is this “snow cone” is the tip of an $7 billion iceberg over the length of the development. And this is one earmark out of hundreds. I’m just looking for some leadership that sees these issues and sorts them out on a real cost basis, not continuing to “bet on the come savings” a la the housing industry debacle.

If you are going to buy as many a/c as the JSF program plans, then it makes sense to have two engines. Most major commercial a/c have at least two engine options. The real question is whether the whole F-35 program makes economic sense (vs F-16 blk 60, F-18 E/F). F136 may be a snowcone, but F-35 is real money.

F35 no longer makes economic sense. Buy more F22, F18, F16. When it was going to cost $40M a copy, JSF looked terrific. At somewhere between 120-250M a copy, it is a nightmare. If we go ahead, there is only so much money in the budget for fighters, we are going to put the Air Force and Navy out of the aviation business altogether. Latest study commissioned by the Dutch said 1800–3000 is the most likely total production, with Europe backing out over high price.

Competition is not “bet on the come”…and your length of development estimate isn’t even worth responding to.

I wish I could include here ALL the facts why we should keep the alternate engine and competition. Its a no brainer, competition will improve safety, maintainability, reliability, it will provide flexibility for our Military Commanders during War and it will increase the lethality of the F35 Aircraft. Competition will reduce unemployment, mortgage foreclosures, unemployment benefits, and other tax payer burdens that are driving our deficit through the roof today! Additionally, it increases our engineering base, and the development of leading edge technologies and it will maintain the U.S of America’s edge over our adversaries in the development of Fifth Generation Fighter hardware and systems.

More importantly, the alternate engine will ELIMINATE America from basically having the SAME engine power its F22 and F35 acft.…this would be a disaster. The F22 has its own reliability issues today with some engine metrics not being met and the F22 has not even been to a real battle field yet. Lets face it, there are too many UNKNOWNS associated with the primary power plants operating in the F22 and F35 today. There have been arguments for the past four years whether the alternate engine should stay or go and its getting actually a little childish now. P&W is spending Millions advertising why the alternate engine should be cancelled when it should be investing this money in how they can reduce their engine cost and decrease the overrun they created. They are near 2B over budget and climbing, this 2B could buy about 160 F35 engines or 17 F35 acft..today. These are the facts America. Having both engines and allowing competition will create a F35 Platform second to none for the next 50 years.

Hey Formula, how about this for an unknown, what about the potential problems GE is going to have while trying to get to the point P&W is at? What are the costs of delays and re-designs going to be? Can’t answer that huh? You can’t answer it because you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. GE may be a competant aerospace manufacturer but you seem to forget they too will go through a good number of growing pains if they continue to fund that engine. Factor that into your false sense of fiscal conservatism.

Colin,
Can you get us a copy of that infamous cost comparison the Pentagon just sent to Congress (and post it)? Then we can see the pricing and life cycle assumptions between the engines, and form our own opinions of the merits of each?

Steve, the F135 is a “derivative” engine; the cost overruns we are witnessing today are examples typically found in a NEW development program…and I’m being nice. It should NOT have cost overruns like we as tax payers are seeing today. P&W preached and marketed very hard and then sold everyone on the “derivative” engine concept and how much more affordable the F135 will be in terms of design, vendor spool ups and testing and how redesigns, delays and cost overruns would be minimized. Maybe you should ask P&W how a derivative engine program is near 2B in cost overruns. All we can do is look at the facts and the facts show no cost overruns for the alternate engine who is only about three years behind the F135.

Excellent points, Formula. The derivative engine does exhibit all the technical, schedule and cost problems of a new development. So, how much more money will it take to fix before it is certified for operational use?

Oh, BTW…you’re not even answering my question about how much it will cost for GE to get to the same point as P&W. What are you going to say when GE goes through their growing pains? You just made the point that GE’s engine is a brand new development program. What about the costs they’re potentially going to see when they start to ramp up development?

That’s the Billion dollar question John. I know there are growing pains with any development program. But, what we are seeing today on the F35’s primary propulsion system for a derivative design is just uncalled for. Steve, trust me when I say there are several hardware items that can be interchanged between the F119 and F135. I can also say with some confidence, the GE program will NOT be 2B over budget. I can also assure you, if the alternate engine was over budget by a dollar or late on any deliverables, the press, P&W and the DoD would have all been over them. More importantly, there are award fees or incentives that are given to the contractor for being on target for cost and deliverables.…the alternate engine has received incentives every year. Also, if someone really took a close look at what the alternate engine program has achieved to this point in time with the funding (reduced) they have received from Congress they would not believe it. It amazes me what this program has achieved during Pre-SDD and SDD.

60 hrs worth of testing by 12/09 is amazing? To that end I would hope they weren’t over budget.
You can say with confidence then that GE’s BRAND NEW ENGINE (with 60 hrs worth of testing so far) will not have the same types of issues as P&W’s? What are you smoking and why aren’t you sharing?!?! You must work for GE if you think they wouldn’t go overbudget! Every defense contractor has and continues to go over budget. What makes you think Mother GE will not??

Two or three years behind and that equals to about 12,000+ hours behind. Anyone who honestly believes the original hype about a “derivative” engine knows nothing about engine development. Unless you’re changing a few parts throughout the engine it’s not a “derivative” engine. It’s brand new. The term “derivative” is more akin to standard designs of hardware then final drawing. I’m pretty positive you cannot take a single part out of a F135 and put it into a F119.
You can’t show cost overruns on the alternate engine because they aren’t budgeted for them, their budget is completely separate from DOD/Pentagon funding. What Congress gives them they have to live with period. Should all programs be like that.…sure why not, that’d be great but under the conditions we have today that isn’t going to happen.

Steve, I did not say GE would not go over budget. I said they would not go over budget by 2B…or close to it. I’m a Military Aviation Consultant with over 30 years of USAF and Industry experience. I’ve worked both GE and P&W engine programs (F110, J79, All F100 series, J57, J85…etc) . I went through the F15 engine fiasco and I experienced the Great Engine War. The Great Engine War was a blessing in disguise for us wearing the uniform. I deployed several acft and experienced the ups and downs of not having parts and K-balling parts to keep jets in the air. Having experienced all of this on each engine line, the GE engine served us better. I’m a firm believer the F136 will maintain the tradition of being the best propulsion system for a single engine airframe.

Formula, not really sure where your “facts” are coming from in thinking they won’t go over budget…or where P&W is over budget by 2B. The facts are these, the cost overruns are due in large part to the STOVL side of the fence and not the CTOL side and most (not all) of the STOVL issues are due to the lift-fan and 3BSM. Which when/if GE gets further into the program on STOVL they won’t have to deal with those growing pains either. Facts are, they chose Pratts engine and it’s in planes flying now. GE’s engine has less than a 1000 hrs worth ground pounding.

And Formula, people are still spouting off on the opinion that P&W’s engine is a “derivative” engine which in some eyes it should not have cost as much as it has so far. Whether it’s called a “derivative” engine or a “clean sheet of paper” engine, development costs are going to be about the same, especially with testing. GE is having growing pains (as P&W is having) and they’re years behind Pratt, the bottom line is the costs will rise for the GE engine, that’s a fact, how much one can only speculate. It’s really sad when people speculate their way into an opinion and pass it off as “fact”.

Steve, I agree in part that the LF and 3BSM are cost risers.…however, the F135 was low powered to begin with for the STOVL. Now, the F135 is going through a redesign for the Core and LPT as well as Fan upgrades that are in the CIP budget and “other” gov funded programs. My real point here Steve is this, P&W came in low on their bid singing the “derivative engine” song load and clear and how their engine would reduce risk and keep costs down. Actually, the opposite has occurred and today we are looking at an engine that is now 2.5B over budget and it has seen a double digit increase in its engine cost. Granted, GE will not have to go through several of the growing pains that P&W did, this is another reason why I think the alternate engine is a good investment for this Program and the USG and its allies.

43K pounds of thrust is underpowered?! As far as the CTOL version is concerned that is enough, with the STOVL they need all the power they can get (GE wouldn’t know that because they’re not even testing those in the planes yet) that’s why they’re trying to cut weight. You don’t know what’s going on, the LPT was redesigned years ago, that’s old news. Since you seem to know a lot about what’s going on with Pratts core, what exactly is going on with it? What defense company in the whole industry of defense companies wouldn’t tout they can come in with costs? GE does it, every company does it. It’s funny you say that about the Lift System and 3BSM…on the one hand you bad mouth Pratt for its rising costs and that’s a significant part of it and then from the other side of your mouth you’re saying it’s a good thing Pratt has done this so GE doesn’t have to…so if that’s the case then half of those costs (whatever they are) should be tagged to GE at least on paper…so in reality it’s not 2.5B it’s probably much less.

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