Killing The F136

By John Liang / April 25, 2011 at 7:32 PM

The Defense Department has officially killed the Joint Strike Fighter F136 alternate engine program, according to a DOD statement issued today:

The Department of Defense today notified the General Electric/Rolls Royce Fighter Engine Team (FET) and the Congress that the F136 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) engine contract has been terminated.

On March 24, 2011, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Ashton Carter directed the F-35 JSF contracting officer to issue an order to the FET to stop work on the F136 development contract.  The stop work order ended the expenditure of $1 million per day on an extra engine that the DoD has assessed as unneeded and wasteful.  The stop work order was put in place pending final resolution of the extra engine’s future in Congressional action on the fiscal 2011 budget.

Subsequently, H.R. 1473, the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act for 2011 was passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President on April 15, 2011.  H.R. 1473 contains no funding for the F136 engine.

Following this action, Carter directed the JSF Joint Program Office to cease all activity on the F136 development, and the JSF contracting officer determined to terminate the F136 contract.

The FET has been instructed to preserve and deliver government property. The Defense Contract Management Agency will assume responsibility for termination settlement.

As blogged this morning, however, GE isn't going down without a fight. And according to a company statement released in the wake of the DOD announcement:

While we are deeply disappointed by the DoD's "Notice of Termination," GE and Rolls-Royce remain committed to the F136 and the significant benefits it brings to the American taxpayer and our fighting men and women.

For 14 years, the F136 team has developed F136 technologies and engine prototypes at a cost of $3 billion to taxpayers.  They contain some of the world’s most advanced propulsion technologies. The intellectual property includes numerous patented technologies from both companies.

Over the coming weeks we will work with the US Government to comply with the Notice.  Throughout that process, GE and Rolls-Royce will take all necessary steps to ensure that the F136 assets and intellectual property are protected.

More than $200 million in F136 hardware is located in 17 facilities, including nine engines under various stages of assembly.

GE and Rolls-Royce will work closely with our Congressional supporters during the 2012 budget process in pursuit of incorporating the engine into the program, and preserving competition. We continue to be encouraged by the bi-partisan support for the engine on the merits of its performance and value. There is a significant willingness in Congress to revisit the F136 funding debate as the consequences of terminating the engine are being fully understood.

From a company personnel standpoint, the F136 termination notice has limited impact because of actions already underway at GE and Rolls-Royce.

Since the DoD “stop work” order in March, GE and Rolls-Royce has been in the process of realigning the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team into a core technical team (about 100 people). The team is being sized in a manner consistent with overall JSF schedule slips.

The technical team seeks to protect, enhance, and advance the vital F136 propulsion technologies for JSF and future combat aircraft.

The F136 program has been called a “near model program” by the U.S. Senate.  The F136 engine has met or exceeded performance expectations and demonstrated significant advantages over the Pratt & Whitney engine.  The engine development has been under development since 1996 and is 80% complete with six development engines tested.

In addition to strong performance, the GE/RR F136 development program has been on or ahead of schedule.