The Pentagon's top acquisition official again tried to shoot down the case for a second engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), which many in Congress are urging as a cost-control move.
"There is not a good analytical case that the upfront costs of the second engine would be paid back," Ashton Carter told an audience May 4 in Washington at the Sea-Air-Space symposium sponsored by the Navy League of the United States.
The engine issue has emerged as one of the most contentious concerns in debate over the fiscal 2011 budget request. The Pentagon wants to stick with the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine for the new aircraft, while Congress has repeatedly directed the Pentagon to include the F136 engine, made by General Electric and Rolls-Royce, for reliability and to compete with the first engine on cost.
"The key to success" in the JSF program "must be affordability," Carter said.
He pointed out that when a Pentagon analysis last fall showed that JSF costs were growing, he and Defense Secretary Robert Gates changed the program's schedule, appointed a new program leader and adjusted its budget.
Additionally, they "insisted that we and our industrial partners restore affordability to the program," Carter said.