Ohio senators push for continued fighter jet engine program


Ohio senators push for continued fighter jet engine program

The People’s Defender – Ohio’s U.S. senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman are part of a bi-partisan effort to convince the current administration to continue the development of a fighter engine by the GE/Rolls Royce Fighter Engine Team (FET). The government’s termination of the project in March is marked by the lost opportunity of about 400 jobs in southwest Ohio, according to a GE spokesman.

“The competitive engine will reduce defense costs, improve our national security, and save thousands of jobs that strengthen our manufacturing base,” Brown said. “While the Pentagon has repeatedly ignored Congressional will, I hope the new leadership will join our efforts to save taxpayer dollars in the long-term and preserve hundreds of Ohio jobs.”

The Joint Strike Fighter, known more officially as the F-35 Lightning II, is the next generation of military fighter jets and is expected to replace the F-16. The Pentagon embarked on the 30-year advanced tech fighter program in 1995 with Pratt & Whitney, based in Connecticut, to develop the primary F136 engine for the fighter.

The following year Congress provided initial seed money for GE to study a competing engine which would provide the financial benefits of competition in the development of the engine. Rolls-Royce joined GE on the venture. In later years, both P&W and GE/Rolls Royce were awarded development contracts at different times, with the Pentagon structuring the GE/R-R engine to go into production four years after the P&W engine.

The competing companies worked through the past decade to develop their engines, which were ordered to be designed to be interchangeable in the aircraft. However, each year from 2006 to 2009, the Department of Defense canceled the GE/R-R contract, citing budget constraints. Each time, Congress voted to restore the funding.

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