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Jet Engine Eats Tax Dollars

February 12, 2011

Here we again. More infighting and lying and bragging on the "alternate engine" for the F-35. You see, Pratt & Whitney won the initial engine competition for the F-35. The main competitor, a team of GE and Roll's Royce (not the same as the car manufacturer) lost the competition. You would think that would be the end to it. But no. Congress has been diverting program money towards the alternate engine. I talked about this before.
 
On Monday, just in time for a romantic Valentine's Day, the Department of Defense budget will be released. The budget will likely not include funding for the alternate engine. And the two engine manufacturers are trying to get ahead of the story with their own competing press lines.
 
So far Pratt & Whitney is running at 16% under cost per engine. But the new budget is going to include more funding for them, along the lines of a billion dollars more. GE and Roll's Royce are trying to draw plenty of attention to this extra funding as while some of it is for extra delivery of engines and related services, some is also pegged towards improvement. GE and Rolls are trying to demonstrate their engine is more innovative than the P&W engine and both are arguing about how worthy metrics like fuel burn are.
 
I suspect this will be contentious and I frankly don't care which engine is actually better. But we should be angry when competition doesn't fuel (see what I did there?) a better product but instead a hissy fit that serves no one, and congress while cutting budgets everywhere else continues to fund a defense item that is completely redundant and as far as typical defense programs completely unnecessary.
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