The alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter — hailed by proponents as an example of life-cycle competition and assailed by critics as pork-barrel spending — may be down. But don’t count it out just yet.
The House and the Senate unceremoniously pulled funding for the extra engine in February and the Defense Department officially canceled the program last week.
But the program has friends in high places — specifically, Congress.
House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), identified by AOL Defense Editor Colin Clark as one of “Congress’ staunchest supporters of the second engine program,” has included funding for the engine in his budget, Huffington Post reports.
Clark posits that scheduled improvement costs to the Joint Strike — the F-135 — that must be approved by Congress could give congressional backers of the alternative engine — the F-136 — the opportunity to including funding for the extra engine’s funding.
The White House and the Pentagon are united in their opposition to the program. President Barack Obama has promised to veto any spending bill that includes F-136 funding, and DoD says canceling the program could save $3 billion over six years.
But McKeon, who vowed to “explore all legislative options available to us” for saving the alternative engine, is not alone. He’s joined in his sentiments by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and from across the aisle by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.).