Engine Wars

By Christopher J. Castelli / May 7, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Defense Department is continuing to avoid funding the alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter -- despite Congress' repeated demands that DOD fund the effort -- but DOD Comptroller Robert Hale said today the Pentagon might one day accept Capitol Hill's point of view.

Asked why the alternate engine is unfunded in DOD's fiscal year 2010 budget request, he told reporters, "Because we don't think there's a business case for it, in terms of overall savings for the same capability."

But since Congress has repeatedly pushed the Pentagon to fund the effort, does it make sense at some point for the Pentagon to call it quits on the argument?

"Well, I mean, I think, our job is to propose what we think will provide the most national security for a given amount of money," Hale said. "I understand Article 1, Section 8. It's an independent branch of government. And they have the right to ultimately appropriate the money."

Then he briefly suggested DOD might one day see it Capitol Hill's way.

"But I mean, maybe there comes a day," he said. "But at this point, I think, that's the right thing for us to do, which is to continue to propose what we think is in the best interests of the country."