Appropriators nix second fighter engine

Senate defense appropriators on Wednesday decided not to add funding for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter alternative engine.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) said that he decided against funding the engine made by General Electric and Rolls-Royce because he was concerned about the floor vote on the entire 2010 defense appropriations bill.

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The Obama administration has threatened to veto the defense bill if funding for the second engine — which it did not request — is seen to jeopardize the entire F-35 program.

Pratt & Whitney builds the primary engine and has lobbied Congress for months, making the case it should be the only engine producer for the newest fighter jet.

The Senate showed earlier this summer that it had no appetite for funding the second engine when lawmakers cast their vote on the 2010 defense authorization bill.

Inouye said that the funding for the engine would become a conference issue with the House, which added funds. Inouye signaled that he is looking to buy more time to discuss the issue with the administration. His commmittee funded the engine in the past despite Pentagon opposition.