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Public Statements

Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. AKIN. Mr. Chairman, this is a debate and a discussion that has been going on for some period of time. As has been noted before, there are many of us who serve on the Armed Services Committee who have a little different view than does the Pentagon on this subject.

So what are the benefits of the second engine? Several of those have been mentioned.

First of all, it is the sense of security. You've got basically an aircraft now that is going to be serving the Marine Corps, the Navy, and the Air Force. All of our services will be dependent on this one aircraft, which is the Joint Strike Fighter. That particular Joint Strike Fighter has one engine. Obviously, if you want it to work well, the engine has to run right.

The Armed Services Committees have taken a look at this, and those with a few more whiskers here understand the problem that came along on the F-16, where we had an engine manufacturer that couldn't get the engine done, and the whole airframe was at risk. In this case, you have the airframe for the Marine Corps, the Navy, and the Air Force, so this Congress wisely decided that we're going to have two engines.

First of all, from a security point of view, what this allows us to do is to make sure that we have an engine that is on time and on delivery. Certainly, the competition is another good point. You save a lot of money. If you've got two different contractors bidding against each other, we're going to get a good price on the engines, and that's going to be important, particularly year in and year out.

Now, there are a couple of other things that have not been mentioned that I've heard this evening. One of them is that the second engine also has 10 to 15 percent more thrust. What does that mean?

Well, it's interesting. If you happen to be a Marine Corps guy, the marine version of this is called a STOVL. It has to take off from just sitting on a deck, and it takes off straight up. That takes a lot of thrust. The first engine is absolutely maxed out, and what we see over time is we want to put more stuff in our airplanes. When you do that, it gets heavier, and you need more thrust. The second engine offers that 10 to 15 percent more thrust.

I don't know if there is a financial consideration to define what that is worth, but that extra 10 or 15 percent could make the difference of a stable aircraft that could carry some particular additional piece of equipment that we may need in the future.

The other point that I've not heard made and is actually kind of new to us is that these engines are big suckers. They are very, very big turbines, and they have a tremendous amount of power that they're generating.

Now, if we've got this one turbine that works for the Marine Corps, for the Navy and the Air Force, what would happen if we were to use that turbine in other applications? You'd get all the more benefit of having fewer parts and having interchangeability. These engines are bolt-for-bolt interchangeable.

So what happens when we start to look at the design for a future deep strike bomber? One of the questions on that will be: How many engines do you need? Is it going to be a four-engine bomber or a two-engine? Four is a lot more expensive.

What happens if you could get the power of two engines into one and make it a two-engine bomber and use the same engines that are going into JSFs? So now you've got a universal engine working for a number of platforms. There is a whole lot of simplicity and cost savings for that type of thing.

If we're going to put our eggs in one basket, we want to make sure we've got at least two people and that we have the competition, the capability of using this engine in other ways, and the additional thrust for the second engine.

I would recommend a ``no'' vote on this amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.


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