WASHINGTON D.C.- December 15, 2010 - Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) wrote the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday to express their disappointment with the Committee's decision to reduce procurement of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and include more funding for the alternate engine in the Consolidated Appropriations Act.
"I was extremely disappointed to learn that the appropriations proposal contains $450 million to develop an alternate engine for the F-35 that the Department of Defense does not require or want," said Senator Snowe. "I look forward to supporting an amendment that would end this program once and for all."
"It would be unconscionable to waste another taxpayer dollar on the alternate engine," said Senator Lieberman. "I will fight on the Senate floor to terminate this earmark and restore those funds to the Joint Strike Fighter program that our military needs."
Letter that Senators Lieberman and Snowe sent
to Chairman Inouye and Ranking Member Cochran:
Dear Chairman Inouye and Senator Cochran,
We write to express our disappointment with regard to the recommendation in the Committee's proposed Consolidated Appropriations Act to reduce the procurement of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter by seven aircraft while funding the continued development of the F136 alternate engine.
The proposed reduction in F-35 procurement would slow the planned ramp-up in production and increase the unit cost of each aircraft. Such a decision would also increase production costs for future lots of low-rate initial production and ultimately decrease confidence among our allies in the ability of the United States to produce the Joint Strike Fighter at an affordable cost.
The recommendation to fund the F136 alternate engine is all the more troubling. The President, the Secretary of Defense, and our uniformed military leadership have repeatedly said that they neither want nor plan to use the alternate engine. Even with the funding provided in this bill, the Department of Defense estimates that the alternate engine would require another $2.45 billion in taxpayer funds before it could be competed in fiscal year 2017. And even after those expenses, there would be no guarantee that the second engine will result in any significant long-term savings over the life of the JSF program. It was for these reasons that the Senate voted decisively to terminate the program last July.
In view of these concerns, it is imperative that the Senate have the opportunity to consider an amendment to strike the alternate engine from the Consolidated Appropriations Act and restore funds for the President's F-35 procurement request. How this subject is handled will be a key element in guiding our decision on whether to support or oppose the overall legislation. We thank you for your consideration of this request and for your leadership in working to bring up an appropriations bill that can achieve bipartisan support.
Senator Olympia Snowe