I like Rep Barney Frank's tie in his photo in today's lead editorial in The Boston Globe. I have one just like it.
The Boston Globe is using Mr Frank's position on the GE produced F-136 alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to talk about Pork. The paper notes that Mr Frank says he will vote for the engine, but would vote to kill the aircraft, if that vote came up. The Globe makes Mr Frank's position sound like a Senator Kerry "I voted for it before I voted against it" stand. This is, I believe a wrong characterization.
Sure, the F-136 is made in Lynn. Yes, it could well be pork. On the other hand, it could well be a case of short term needs vs long term benefits. The Department of Defense would like to save the money being spent on the alternative engine and divert it to other things. At the same time, it is giving up long term benefits, including possible money savings and increased contractor performance. This isn't contracting theory out of some university. For the short version, see this Congressional Research Service report and for the longer version, read this book. In the interest of full disclosure, I have flow aircraft with both the Pratt Whitney F-100 engine and the GE F-110 engine, the products of "The Great Engine War".
If the DoD doesn't have the money, or we need to cut the budget, then we should cut the second engine and take the risks associated with one design and one production line. If we think we should invest in long term savings and effectiveness we should keep the funding for the second engine. The alternative, which, Rep Frank alludes to, is to cut the whole Joint Strike Fighter program. But, if we do we need to keep the F-22 line open and offer it to all those allies who have invested in the F-35 JSF, as well as buy a few more for ourselves, as a hedge against emerging threats and possible future problems with our current stable of fighters.
Representative Barney Frank isn't wrong all the time.
Regards — Cliff