Obama faces jet engine discord


POSTED: Monday, October 05, 2009

Despite the opposition of his home-state president, U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie is continuing to prod fellow House members to support an alternative engine for the new F-35 jet fighter.

Abercrombie, a 10-term Democrat from Hawaii, jumped on a recent testing mishap with the newest version of the alternative engine by sending “;Dear Colleague”; letters to dozens of House members.

The Sept. 14 letter contends that continuing to finance the alternative engine, made by General Electric and Rolls-Royce, will create competition with primary engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney.

“;A competitive engine program for the F-35 is vital to the national interest and readiness of our future fighter force,”; he wrote.

President Obama has denounced the alternative F-35 engine as unnecessary.

“;This waste would be unacceptable at any time,”; Obama told the Veterans of Foreign Wars recently. “;But at a time when we're fighting two wars and facing a serious deficit, it's inexcusable. It's unconscionable.”;

Dave Helfert, Abercrombie's spokesman, said the congressman believes military advisers have given Obama “;bad information”; about the program.

Abercrombie is chairman of the House air and land forces subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the F-35, known as the Joint Strike Fighter, and its engines. The full House voted to continue funding the alternative engine at $560 million next year. None of the parts for the alternative engine are made in Hawaii.