This is part 2 of the transcript from the press conference yesterday with F-35 program chief Brig Gen David Heinz. This is what he has to say about the potential operational risk of eliminating the F136 alternate engine for the F-35 program.
HEINZ: In the future, should there be an engine incident on the F135, our ability to absorb an incident that may ground a large number of those motors, because I have type model series variance right now, is going to lessen.
I'm gong to replace a majority of the F/A-18s, F-16s [and] the Harriers with a single airplane. And so you don't have the operational flexibility with the various type model series that you enjoy today. So if the Harriers went down -- and they did for 11 months back in 2000 timeframe -- for an engine issue, you could absorb that with your F/A-18s. ... That becomes limited in the future with the F-35.
I believe that part of the debate that has to occur -- and is occurring - is, is there an operational risk that we are accepting by having just a single engine manufacturer.
I simply think that we focus too much on the discussion about cost and not the operational risk.
Most of the discussion has been we think the risk is acceptable. I understand that today. I think as we look towards the future that TMS [??] flexibility goes down and therefore becomes a little bit different questions. And therefore we should consider with data analysis do we still believe that's acceptable.