Skelton Waves F136 Shield

There is a strong case for keeping alive the F136, the second engine for the F-35 strike fighter, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told reporters Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Further, warned Skelton, President Obama risks the success of his effort to secure a repeal of the Pentagon’s “don’t ask-don’t tell” policy on homosexuals in the military if he vetoes next year’s defense authorization bill over the engine issue. Despite the White House’s objections, the House included F136 funding in its version of the bill that passed the chamber on May 28. Skelton said maintaining the GE/Rolls Royce F136 program creates “more jobs,” keeps F-35 engine costs affordable “because of competition” and ensures reliability “in case one [engine design] doesn’t perform adequately.” (The other engine is the F135, produced by Pratt & Whitney.) He questioned whether Obama would veto the bill, which includes language enabling the don’t ask-don’t tell repeal, given the House’s “substantial” support for the second engine. “The only one who can answer that is the President,” he said.