GE, Rolls-Royce to cut off funding for development of second F-35 engine

The manufacturers of a second engine for the F-35 fighter announced Friday they will not pump their own funds into the project beyond 2011, an apparent death knell for the controversial program.

The Pentagon has proposed killing the engine program, saying it is too pricey and not needed. Congress has kept it alive in the past, but versions of 2012 military spending bills do not provide funding for it.

GE and Rolls-Royce had been pumping their own funds into the program to keep it alive. But in a joint news release, the firms said that effort will soon end.

The GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team ... has reached the decision to discontinue self-funded development of the F136 engine for the [F-35] beyond 2011, the companies said.

The decision, reached jointly by GE and Rolls-Royce leadership, recognizes the continued uncertainty in the development and production schedules for the [F-35] program.

Dan McCormick, president of the firms’ engine team, said in the release: “GE and Rolls-Royce are proud of our technology advancements and accomplishments on the F136. However, difficult circumstances are converging that impact the potential benefit of a self-funded development effort.”