Israel’s F-35 engine selection in dispute between rival manufacturers

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An announced engine selection for Israel's first batch of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters has sparked a new dispute between both rival manufacturers.

Pratt & Whitney says the company has received a verbal commitment by Israel to buy the F135 engine to power the first batch of 20 F-35s ordered under a $2.75 billion agreement signed last week.

The General Electric/Rolls-Royce team developing the F136 alternate engine claims the selection process remains ongoing. "We fully anticipate we will have an opportunity to compete with the F136" in Israel, GE says.

The controversy leaves in doubt the first potential engine selection by a non-US F-35 customer for production-phase aircraft.

P&W claims the timing of Israel's order is critical, with only one production engine available to meet the customer's scheduled entry into service in 2015. The F136, however, is on track to become operational on US-owned F-35s in 2013. "We will definitely have an engine ready when [Israel] wants it," GE says.

P&W says that it was the only engine manufacturer invited to the ceremony in New York where Israeli officials signed the letter of offer and acceptance to commit to the fighter purchase. "The other guys weren't there," a company source says.

Moreover, the F135-maker also notes that it has sold engines to Israel since 1947 and the company's engines currently power all of the country's fixed-wing combat jets.

GE, however, says F136 representatives delivered a briefing about the F-35 programme's alternate engine in Israel earlier this week at the invitation of the government in Tel Aviv.