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Obama Continues to Oppose GE F-35 Engine With Immelt as Adviser

Jan. 21 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama continues to oppose Pentagon funding for General Electric Co.’s alternative engine for the F-35 jet fighter even after choosing Jeffrey Immelt, GE’s chief executive officer, to head his outside panel of economic advisers, the president’s spokesman said.

GE’s engine for $382 billion F-35 jet fighter program is opposed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates as unnecessary because the primary engine made by United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney unit is sufficient. Lawmakers have objected to Gates’s position and have funded the GE engine in the past.

“The secretary of defense, the president, have made the point that this is not something that we need,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters aboard Air Force One traveling to Schenectady, New York, referring to GE’s engine for Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 jet.

Gibbs said that, as the government goes through another round of appropriations over the next year, Obama and Gates will “reiterate” that at a time when everybody is “tightening their belts, there are things we simply don’t need, and that is certainly one of them.”

Obama picked Immelt, 54, to head a panel of economic advisers replacing former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. Obama appeared with Immelt for a speech today in Schenectady, the birthplace of GE’s energy business.

In his advisory position, Immelt has “agreed to work through what makes our country more competitive, not something that is a benefit just to one company, or to his company,” Gibbs said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gopal Ratnam in Washington at gratnam1@bloomberg.net. Julianna Goldman in Washington at jgoldman6@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva@bloomberg.net

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