Washington, D.C. (March 24, 2011)—On March 24, the Department of Defense issued a ninety-day stop work order in preparation for cancelling the congressionally authorized and appropriated F136 engine program for the Joint Strike Fighter.
The Defense Department claimed that funding for the F-35 competitive engine was not authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2011 enacted in January. This is wholly inaccurate and misleading. The competitive engine was authorized by Congress like any other single equipment program or project in fiscal 2011. The FY 2011 NDAA authorized Air Force and Navy R&D. Subsequent appropriations in R&D, including the FY 2011 continuing resolution, have continued to provide the specific, line item appropriation for the F136 competitive engine.
President Obama and Secretary Gates have made their views on the second engine well known. However strongly they may hold these views, they are not a substitute for the law. Nor do their opinions excuse stating utter falsehoods about the law that conveniently conform to their point of view. Unless the law changes, the F-35 competitive engine is a congressionally authorized and appropriated program.
As he made clear in his statement on Thursday, Chairman McKeon remains dismayed at the determination of the Department of Defense to award the largest earmark in its history in the name of saving taxpayers money. Cancelling the engine competition and awarding a sole-source, noncompetitive contract will not lead to positive outcomes for taxpayers. The Department’s preferred engine has already experienced development delays and a cost to complete increase of 445% over the last three years. With the attention of the nation on fiscal responsibility, it is stunning that such a program would be exempted from the competitive forces that lead to lower prices.