The EU

Google says the EU requires a notice of cookie use (by Google) and says they have posted a notice. I don't see it. If cookies bother you, go elsewhere. If the EU bothers you, emigrate. If you live outside the EU, don't go there.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pork Isn't Always Pork

Here is a report on the new F-35B aircraft for the US Marine Corps.  The aircraft line (F-35A/B/C) is a tri-service aircraft (and also for eight international customers).  The international partners are contributing $4 billion dollars to the Research and Development costs.  Plus they will purchase a large number of aircraft, thus keeping production costs down (the famous "Learning Curve").

A write-up on the program, from Wikipedia, can be found here.

My reason for writing is the question of the "Second Engine".  Is it another Ear Mark boondoggle or is it a wise hedge?  I will state my bias up front.  When I was commanding the 86th Fighter Wing (Ramstein AB, FRG) we were the first unit to field the F-16 with the GE second source jet engine.  It was a marked improvement in performance over the Pratt Whitney engined jets. That said, a later model of the PW engine matched the GE engine.  The story of this engine competition is written up in The Air Force and the Great Engine War.

The second engine for the F-35 was a pet project for Senator Ted Kennedy.  Maybe it was for the jobs in Lynn—Pork.  From my perspective it was about pushing the technology and having options.  It is also about the benefits of competition.  Competition extracts better performance.  See the F-16 engine competition.

Whatever the late Senator Kennedy's reason for backing the second engine, it was a good idea.

The second engine may be what allows the F-35B to achieve a positive production decision and operational success.

Regards  —  Cliff


Craig H said...

If one defines "pork" as an inside-bid, secretly funded patronage game, then ensuring this engine project isn't is pretty straightforward: express the reasons for the project, as you've done here, let a collaborative and open legislative process decide on its merits relative to other investments and opportunities, and then fund as appropriate.

Your logic here sounds pretty reasonable to me.

JoeS said...

There will be a lot of arguments that splitting production will diminish the economies of scale for the engines. However, competition will drive efficiency and provide risk mitigation with the alternate engine, so unless it is a single lot procurement, the second source should be the right decision.