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AFA 2021: Kendall supports continuing advanced engine development despite proposed budget cuts

The US Air Force's (USAF's) new Secretary Frank Kendall endorses continuing the service's Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP) despite the USAF's fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget request calling for drastic cuts to the effort.

Kendall, who took on the role in July, told reporters on 20 September at the Air Force Association's (AFA's) annual conference that the programme has been successful as the fuel savings and the thrust increase potentially have a lot of value. He has had discussions with Carlos Del Toro, the US Navy (USN) secretary, about the sea service being part of the programme moving forward. The engines being developed for the AETP are envisioned for the USAF's next-generation combat aircraft and the USN's F/A-XX programme.

The USAF could request funding contributions from the USN to keep the AETP moving forward. A former Pentagon Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter programme official told Janes on 8 September that the AETP is solely funded by the USAF and that the US military services are not out to “give anyone a free lunch”.

The USN had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication. Kendall was confirmed as USAF secretary after the Pentagon submitted its FY 2022 budget request in late May.

The USAF proposed substantially reduced funding in FY 2022 for both the AETP and Next-Generation Adaptive Propulsion (NGAP). The service was provided USD214 million for the AETP in FY 2021, and it is requesting USD14 million for the effort in FY 2022. The USAF, in budget documents, said the decrease in funding reflects engine assessments being in the last phase of the prototyping effort.

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