Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy On General Electric Aviation’s Announcement On The Alternate Engine Program

"While I am deeply disappointed by the decision by GE Aviation and Rolls Royce to terminate their self-funding of the F136 alternate engine program for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, I understand why they made that choice.  The F-35 program has performed miserably with delays and cost overruns becoming the rule rather than the exception.  In fact if the Pentagon had diversified its fighter portfolio instead of putting all of our eggs in just one basket, the F-35 program probably would have been declared a failure and terminated this year.  Given how long it will take to produce and deploy Joint Strike Fighters and the likely shrinking number of jets the program will yield, the business case no longer gives GE Aviation and Rolls Royce a good reason to self-fund further engine development out of pocket.  Without a doubt, this decision — by eliminating engine competition — will mean further cost overruns to the overall program and more taxpayer dollars for a less-capable fighter.

"Whether or not the F-35 ever gets off the ground, the program has performed poorly and extends the Pentagon’s decades-long record of acquisition program failures.  I will work with others on the Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee to find ways that Congress can help the Pentagon restrain its skyrocketing costs and dismal record of program cancellations.  For the sake of our troops and taxpayers, the Defense Department needs to completely revamp the culture and strategy of its acquisition corps — reforms that will no doubt will require congressional insistence and direction to accomplish.”  

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