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. "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."

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.