U.S. Congress passes second F-35 engine decision to next session

Reuters reports that the defense spending bill passed in the lame-duck U.S. Congress neither authorizes nor restricts funding for a second F-35 engine. The White House and Department of Defense have lobbied against funding.

Reuters reported on Dec. 22 that the U.S. Congress approved a stripped-down $725 billion defense spending bill that makes no decision on a controversial GE/Rolls Royce Group Plc alternate engine for the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet.

President Barack Obama has said he would veto any legislation that funded development of the engine, which the Defense Department has sought to end for the past five years.

The bill, that now goes to Obama for his signature reflects a deal among leaders of the House of Representatives and Senate armed services committees to strip out controversial issues, after the Senate was unable to consider the legislation in the normal legislative process.

The defense authorization bill for fiscal 2011, that began Oct. 1, neither authorizes nor restricts funding for the second engine (dubbed F136), in effect pass the decision to the new Congress that is to be sworn in on Jan. 5.

In the meantime, the engine's development is set to continue under the White House budget office's interpretation of a lame-duck session stop-gap measure approved by Congress on Tuesday to fund government operations through March 4.

Pratt & Whitney builds the F135 engine being used in early F-35 production. At stake in the controversy is what GE and others believe is a $100 billion engine market over coming decades for Lockheed Martin's single-engine F-35, the Pentagon's priciest purchase ever. Obama, in a written May 28 statement, said the military did not want or need an alternate engine for the F-35.

Information: Click here for original Reuters report.