Yesterday the House of Representatives voted to cut off spending for the “Alternate Engine” for the F #5 joint Strike Fighter. It’s about time. It is testament to the power of corporate lobbyists that F136 engine has been kept alive this long. The military long ago chose the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine as the power plant for F 35 Lightning II fighter program. The “Alternate” F 136 produced by General Electric was the loser in a procurement competition. The drive to keep the F 136 alive is simply a cynical effort to keep the cash flowing to General Electric at the cost of providing American men and women in uniform with the highest quality and greatest quantity of fifth generation fighters as they go into combat.
For years the Pentagon has said they have no interest in the F 136 Loser Engine. The concept of one fighter having two types of engine is truly ridiculous. Picture the maintenance teams on an aircraft carrier at sea with two F 35’s grounded and waiting for replacement parts in time of war. Rather than taking a part from one to get the other flying as occurs every day, both aircraft would sit idle as they did not share the same engine. Forward units would have to stock redundant parts. Maintenance teams would have to be dual trained or worse, additional teams would be required for both engines. Pilots of the F35’s equipped with the GE F136 engine would have the knowledge that they were going into combat with the “looser” engine. I wonder if the CEO of General Electric plans on writing letters to the families of those who would die from using the alternate engine?
For years the corporate gravy train has kept congressional support for the F 136 engine alive despite attempts by the Department of Defense to end the squandering of tax dollars on it by both the Bush and Obama administrations. So the vote yesterday of 233 – 198 to cut of spending for this unwanted waste of tax dollars was the first step in the right direction. Let there be no doubt, the lobbyist money is flowing today to keep the F136 alive in the senate as the Continuing Resolution containing this amendment moves forward. But it is time to put a stake into the heart of this blatant act of corporate welfare. However this is not just a case of wasteful spending, it’s a question of putting the profits of one company ahead of the lives of future generations of American warriors.
It’s time for all Republican members to show their commitment to responsible defense spending and providing our men and women in uniform with the best quality and highest quantity of weapons possible. Any republican who votes in favor of this project will not be able to claim any commitment to fiscal responsibility. It is this author’s hope that any Republican who does chose to support the Looser Engine will earn a primary challenge in 2012 and any contender for the White House supporting the continued waste on this engine would show themselves unqualified to claim the title of Conservative Republican. It’s time to cast the votes, and record the courage and commitment of our elected officials.