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Public Statements

Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CHABOT. I rise in opposition to the gentleman's amendment.

Mr. Chairman, as we debate the funding of a competing engine for the Joint Strike Fighter Program, there are a few key points that we should keep in mind.

First, competition has long been the best way to control costs on large defense programs, and competition is the centerpiece of acquisition reform. By funding competing engines for the Joint Strike Fighter, we can save $21 billion. Let me repeat that, $21 billion savings in taxpayer money over time according to the Government Accountability Office.

Beyond the GAO's projections, our recent history demonstrates that competition also leads to a more efficient process, quicker innovation, and better contractor responsiveness. Recently, the Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel concluded, ``History has shown that the only reliable source of price reduction through the life of a program is competition between dual sources.'' Additionally, the absence of competition makes it harder to address the issues that inevitably arise in connection with sophisticated and critical technology, such as jet engines.

Mr. Chairman, we are seeing such issues on the lead engine for the Joint Strike Fighter. Pratt & Whitney was designated to power the JSF aircraft under the theory that it could effectively derive an engine from its engine for the F-22. Unfortunately, it wasn't as easy as they had anticipated. As a result, the lead engine for the Joint Strike Fighter is now billions of dollars over budget and, worse, struggling to perform the critical functional requirements for the aircraft.

I quote directly from the GAO report from March 2010: ``The Pratt engine is now estimated to cost about $7.3 billion, a 50 percent increase over the original contract award. The total projected cost increased $800 million in 2008. Engine development cost increases primarily resulted from higher costs for labor and materials, supplier problems, and the rework needed to correct deficiencies with an engine blade during redesign. Engine test problems have also slowed development.''

The GAO further confirmed an additional total project cost increase of $1.2 billion in 2010 alone to cover higher than expected engine costs, tooling, and other items. And on February 11, 2011, yet another cost overrun on the lead engine was announced, this time totaling at least $1 billion, bringing total cost overruns on the lead engine to an astounding $3.5 billion today.

The Department of Defense says we don't need a second engine, but these issues won't fix themselves. Only competition will help control costs and create a better, more efficient process. I ask you, How can we afford not to invest in a competing engine? Bottom line, having the engine makers fight head-to-head will give us a far more capable, more cost effective Joint Strike Fighter.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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