WASHINGTON - US House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to kill the extra engine for the F-35 joint strike fighter (JSF), a move that the Pentagon hailed as a step toward the right direction.
The F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), is shown in this March 2010 file photograph. The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to eliminate funding for an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that the Pentagon has called an "unnecessary and extravagant expense." The House voted 233 to 198 to halt $450 million in fiscal 2011 funding for the engine being developed by General Electric and Britain's Rolls-Royce. [Photo/Agencies]
In a 233-198 tally, the House voted to strip funds for the engine from the fiscal 2011 defense spending bill.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has long been fighting against the development of an alternate engine for the jet, calling it "unnecessary and extravagant."
"Secretary Gates welcomes today's vote and is gratified that the full House has recognized the merits of the department's position in opposing the JSF extra engine," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said after the vote.
"He understands this afternoon's vote is but one step, although a very important one, on the path to ensuring that we stop spending limited dollars on unwanted and unneeded defense programs," he added.
The Pentagon estimated that developing such a second engine is costing taxpayers 28 million dollars a month, while termination of the program could end up saving the government around 3 billion dollars over the next few years.
The bill still must go to the Senate, where funding for the engine could be added back.
The single-engine F-35 is powered by the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine. Supporters of a second engine say that it will enhance security and reliability, increase competition, and bring more jobs to the United States.
The alternate engine is now being developed by General Electric and Britain's Rolls Royce.