Maine Voices: Fighter jet design change could hurt Maine workers


Maine’s history of contributing to the defense of our country is a source of immense pride for our state, and we are certainly doing more than we can in providing excellent products to help our fighters preserve and protect our freedoms.

And a quick analysis of the headlines shows that America’s defenses continue to be under constant threat.

So I am writing to you today to stress the continued importance of one of the gems of Maine defense production. Here in my old Maine Senate district, hardworking Mainers are building the F135 engine that powers the F-35 fighter.

That’s right – the deadliest plane ever created finds its roots in the great state of Maine, and it’s a source of great pride for us. We know how important the F135 engine is to our country’s ability to project its strength around the world, so we are building it right.

Maine has a long, long heritage of producing premium tusks. You may have heard the expression “Bath-built, best-built” used to describe the destroyers built at Bath Iron Works in Maine. Overhauled submarines at the southern tip of Maine in the Kittery shipyard receive top notch repair work before they plunge again.

So we have established that Maine is defending itself well. And in the case of the F135 engine, here’s something else to know: The engine is running. It’s online now.

It’s simple: Maine makes the engines, the engines are installed in F-35s, and our pilots are able to carry out their mission.

It is therefore worrying that reports indicate that some recommend that the Department of Defense and Congress stop production of the F135 engine in order to create an all-new engine (through the Adaptive Engine Transition Program) that would replace the current engine. . If these people were successful, it would certainly hurt Maine. But more importantly, we would diminish America’s ability to win the battles that matter.

There are other reasons why the proposal to build an entirely new engine is a bad choice over just upgrading the current engine. I would say that the fact that we are in a massive supply chain crisis indicates that launching a huge new manufacturing initiative would be a bad idea.

Plus, killing the current engine platform to start over would also be incredibly expensive. Additionally, the alternate engine platform would not work for all of the F-35’s current needs. And not all of our service branches are using F-35s that would be compatible with the new engine.

Who wants to tell the Marines they can’t have the deadliest version of the deadliest plane?

Of course, it is extremely important that we continue to improve the capabilities of our military. That’s why an approach that improves on the current engine rather than creating a whole new engine makes sense. I promise you, as our image of the threat evolves, the Mainers can handle any upgrades that will need to be made to the current engine to keep the F-35s on top for a long time.

I would also like to briefly thank Senator Susan Collins for her effective efforts and her clear understanding of the importance of this issue. It has given the Mainers who build the F135 engine a chance to show what they are capable of, and for that it must be recognized.

– Special to the Press Herald


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