GAO Maintains Value in Alternate Engine

During a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing last month, lawmakers heard from senior Government Accountability Office analyst Michael Sullivan that “updated analysis indicates” competition between the Pratt & Whitney F135 powerplant for the F-35 strike fighter and the alternate F-35 engine, the General Electric Rolls-Royce F136, “may reasonably be expected to provide enough savings over the life of the engine to offset the investment in developing a second engine source.” DOD witnesses maintained that DOD hasn’t, in acquisition chief Ash Carter’s words, “been able to substantiate those hypothesized savings.” However, as Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.) pointed out Congress continued providing F136 funding over the years based on Pentagon analysis that showed it would offer “either even or positive” benefit. He declared the recent veto threat by Defense Secretary Bob Gates “was pretty harsh rhetoric over something that we thought was a pretty close call.”

Opening statement, Rep. Adam Smith, chairman Air-Land panel

Written testimony by

Ash Carter, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics

Christine Fox, DOD director of cost assessment and program evaluation

Michael Sullivan, GAO director of acquisition and sourcing