F-35 Alternate Engine Program: Background and Issues for Congress [January 10, 2012]   [open pdf - 641KB]

"On December 2, 2011, General Electric and Rolls-Royce announced that they were ending development of the F136 alternate engine for the F-35, ending what had been a contentious and long-running battle. The alternate engine program began in FY1996, when defense authorization conferees directed DOD to ensure that the JSF [Joint Strike Fighter] (then 'JAST' [Joint Advanced Strike Technology]) program 'provides for adequate engine competition' and required the Department of Defense to develop an alternative to the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine that currently powers the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Development of the alternative, the General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136 engine, was funded in Administration budgets from FY1996 to FY2006. From FY2007 to FY2010, Congress rejected Administration proposals to terminate the program. In FY2011, Congress agreed not to fund the alternate engine, and the alternate engine program was terminated in April 2011. The Administration's FY2012 budget submission again requested no funds for the program. [...] Critics of the proposal to terminate the F136 alternate engine argue that termination was driven more by immediate budget pressures on the department than the long-term pros and cons of the F136 program. They argue that engine competition for the F-15 and F-16 saved money and resulted in greater reliability. Some who applaud the proposed termination say that single-source engine production has been the norm, not the exception. Long-term engine affordability, they claim, is best achieved by procuring engines through multiyear contracts from a single source."

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CRS Report for Congress, R41131
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