Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told lawmakers on Tuesday that the decision to cancel a backup engine for the F-35 was a "close call," but that ultimately the firm costs for development outweighed any "soft savings that might be out there in the future." Donley made his remarks before the House Armed Services Committee, where Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., is a staunch defender of the second engine. Skelton and other lawmakers say there is a "major disconnect" in Pentagon policy, since competition is encouraged in some other weapons programs.

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