UPDATE 1-Obama vows veto of any bill to fund 2d F-35 engine

* Obama “squarely behind” Pentagon war on waste

* House approves measure by 229-186

* Senator voices doubt Obama would use veto
(Adds Obama quotes, background)

By Jim Wolf

WASHINGTON, May 28 (BestGrowthStock) – President Barack Obama said
on Friday he would veto any legislation to fund, over Pentagon
protests, a controversial second engine program for the
multinational F-35 fighter aircraft.

Obama’s comments came just minutes after the House of
Representatives adopted its version of a fiscal 2011 defense
spending bill that included $485 million to keep the alternate
engine alive for competitive reasons.

The House, by a 229-186 vote, gave final passage to the
measure that authorized a $726 billion budget for the Pentagon
and other national defense spending.

The alternate, interchangeable engine is being built by a
joint venture of General Electric Co (GE.N: ) and Rolls-Royce
Group Plc (RR.L: ).

Without it as 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.

Obama, in a written statement, said he stood “squarely
behind” Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ opposition to the
alternate engine and to any purchase of more Boeing Co (BA.N: )
C-17 cargo planes.

Neither the full House nor the Senate Armed Services
Committee has proposed to fund the C-17 next year, although
both did so in the past over Pentagon objections.

“Our military does not want or need these programs being
pushed by the Congress, and should Congress ignore this fact, I
will veto any such legislation so that it can be returned to me
without those provisions,” Obama said.

“As the Congress continues its work on funding bills for
the Department of Defense, I want to reiterate my strong
support for the reforms Secretary Gates is advancing at the
Pentagon,” he added. Gates has been leading a war on waste and
bloated bureaucracy with an eye to freeing up some $10 billion
to $15 billion each year that can be put toward preserving
forces and modernizing the U.S. arsenal.

“He has kept me fully apprised of his efforts to reform how
our military operates and bring needed efficiencies to the
Department of Defense,” the president said.

Earlier in the day, Senate Armed Services Committee
Chairman Carl Levin, a backer of the second engine, said it was
“difficult for me to believe” that Obama would veto a major
defense spending bill over a single provision with which he

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(Additional reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by Peter

UPDATE 1-Obama vows veto of any bill to fund 2d F-35 engine