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F-35 engine fight gives rivals sense of deja vu

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For years, top U.S. Defense Department officials have tried to cancel the F136 engine being developed by GE and Britain's Rolls-Royce Group PLC (RR.L) as an alternative to the F135 engine built by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp (UTX.N). Then each year, Congress has defied veto threats and White House pressure to keep the program alive.


The struggle has taken on new significance this year, amid a major Pentagon cost-cutting push and growing concern among lawmakers about widening U.S. deficits.


"We've nicknamed ourselves the Groundhog Day program. Come February we get to do it again," Russell Sparks, vice president of military strategy at GE Aviation, told the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit.


David Hess, president of Pratt & Whitney, said the comedy movie "Groundhog Day," starring Bill Murray, provided an apt analogy for the fight over funding for a second engine for the F-35 fighter, built by Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N).


In that film, Murray plays a television weatherman who wakes up to relive the same day, February 2, over and over again.


"There is a bit of a 'Groundhog Day' feel to it," Hess told the Reuters Summit. "You know, we've been battling this for 4 years and for 4 years we've had a customer who says he doesn't want it, and for 4 years Congress has put it back in. So it does seem to be deja vu all over again."


Together the two companies have at least 33 lobbyists working on the issue, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group.


Read More: http://www.reuters.c...E68802820100909

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Nope, this is totally separate. None of the testing is relying on this engine.


Unfortunately for P&W, the F136 looks to be coming out better than the F135. More power, more margin for growth, etc. While it could still be cancelled, it looks like it may be the superior engine in the long run.

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Certainly seems like Groundhog Day to me. Pratt and Whitney gets the initial contract, then GE develops a more powerful/reliable engine, then that engine gets threatened to be cut, but winds up being selected in the end. Kind of like the F-101/-110 and its derivatives that wound up in the F-14, F-15, and F-16.

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