Leahy: Interim Funds Released For Joint Strike Fighter Alternate Engine And Work Done At GE Aviation/Rutland

(THURSDAY, Jan. 13) -- Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has confirmed that Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates will continue funding for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) F136 competitive engine, by releasing $56 million in funds provided by Congress in a short-term budget bill in December, which runs to March 4.

David Carle, Leahy’s spokesman, said, “Senator Leahy has been assured by Secretary Gates that the Defense Department will carry out the will of Congress in funding the competitive engine without interruption.  As Senator Leahy had asked, the department is following both the letter and the spirit of the law that he and his allies had written.  This averts problems that would have been caused by a letup in work in the project, and this lays the foundation for Senator Leahy’s efforts to seek continued funding of the alternate engine program in the year ahead.”  Leahy is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which handled the bill.

David Joyce, president and CEO of GE Aviation, said, "GE Aviation deeply appreciates the work of Senator Leahy in shepherding the competitive JSF engine through the budget process.  Competing JSF engines will prevent a $100 billion, non-competed engine monopoly from being handed to a single-engine supplier."

Leahy recently led in sending a letter to Gates, co-signed by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), calling for prompt release of the new funding.

GE Aviation operates a significant facility in Rutland, which is part of the alternate engine project.

Leahy noted that the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that competing JSF engines could save taxpayers an estimated $1 billion during the next five years and $20 billion over the life of the JSF program.

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee, of which Leahy also is a senior member, late last year described the F136 competitive engine as "a near model program."

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