U.S. Senate panel adds no funds for second F-35 fighter jet engine.

The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee added no funds to…

The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee added no funds to preserve a controversial second engine program for the F-35 fighter jet in its version of the 2011 defense spending bill, a panel member said.

The alternate engine is being built by a joint venture of General Electric Co. and Rolls-Royce Group Plc.

Without competition, United Technologies Corp (UTX.N) would have a decades-long monopoly on the projected $100 billion engine market for the more than 3,000 F-35s due to be bought by the United States and partner countries.

Senator Joseph Lieberman, in a statement on the committee’s bill adopted on Thursday, said the decision not to fund the alternate engine was a victory for U.S. taxpayers. Sen. Carl Levin, the panel chairman and a second engine backer, is to hold a press conference on Friday to discuss the bill.

Levin is on record as saying that, as a tactical matter, he would not fight to preserve the second engine in committee, but would support it when a House-Senate conference meets to merge the companion bills.

“I want to do whatever I can to advance it (the second engine),” Levin told Defense Daily, a trade publication, this week. “It may be better to leave it to conference if the House is going to (pass) it.”

The full House of Representatives was nearing a vote Thursday night on adding $485 million to keep the alternate engine program funded in fiscal 2011, which starts Oct. 1.

Source: Jim Wolf for Reuters.

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