General Electric responded to my November 2 posting concerning the alternate engine it is developing for the F-35 fighter. Here is the text of the message from media manager Rick Kennedy, offering a more positive assessment of where the program stands.
“In response to your Monday blog, the GE/RR F136 combustor is not being re-designed. The combustor is performing as expected. A recent engine test issue resulted from a tiny piece — a lug — coming loose on the diffuser in front of the combustor. The diffuser directs air into the combustor. A diffuser component which connects the diffuser to the combustor will be modified. We expect to have a F136 test engine running before year’s end.
“You are correct: the F136 SDD program has accumulated 52 hours this year. However, Mr. Thompson, you compare apples to oranges in comparing GE/RR SDD test hours with P&W at this juncture due to broad differences in engine development funding streams in recent years. Prior to 2009, the GE/RR team was engaged in pre-SDD engine tests and accumulated 585 hours using SDD hardware.
“After 10,000 hours of testing, the P&W F135 development engine continues to experience significant problems, as you well know. I raise this not to challenge P&W’s technical ability, but to underscore how difficult developing these engines truly is. We believe this is why you need two competing engines in the JSF development program.
“To associate the F136 engine with a potential budget overrun is disingenuous given P&W’s considerable budget overruns of $1.9B in development alone.”
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