Dangers ahead in Air Force procurement: Aircraft contracts could reward Russia, French espionage and bribery, and other bad behavior

by J. Michael Waller

Globalization has compelled the Pentagon to rely on foreign manufacturers for key elements of the nation’s defense needs. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, it becomes a problem when the U.S. finds that the governments of France and Russia own big chunks of the company that does the supplying – a company that is busily building a grassroots political influence operation to pressure Congress to buy its products.

In addition to transferring taxpayer dollars into the French and Russian treasuries, procurement through a particular European supplier would bail out an aircraft company that got its start through French espionage and bribery, and would pay workers of radical and politically active labor unions that hate the United States. The issues are:

  • The Army/Air Force Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA). A midrange cargo and troop transporter.
  • The Air Force KC-X airborne tanker. The biggest procurement program in a generation, the KC-X will upgrade the nation’s fleet of antiquated KC-135 tankers.
  • One of the principal bidders on both Pentagon programs: EADS. Based in France, EADS is a French-German-Spanish-Russian aerospace giant that:
    • Used espionage and bribery to compete unfairly with American aircraft manufacturers;
    • Tried to arm Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez over highest-level American objections;
    • Plotted to circumvent U.S. nonproliferation law in order to arm Chavez;
    • Needs major Pentagon contracts to bail out its flailing Airbus division.
    • U.S. taxpayer funding of job programs for European socialist labor unions that hate the United States. EADS aircraft production is a huge jobs program for anti-American labor unions that form the backbones of some of Europe’s most powerful socialist parties.
    • U.S. taxpayer subsidizing of the French and Russian governments, which together own more than 20 percent of EADS and could soon end up owning as much as 35 percent.
    • Placing the U.S. military in a situation that would allow Russia to delay or otherwise damage modernization of the Air Force tanker fleet.

No protectionism – but no rewarding bad behavior

JCA program. The issue is not protectionism. No American aircraft manufacturer is competing with the original design the Air Force and Army want for the JCA. The real contest is between two foreign companies. The first is the European Aeronautical, Defence and Space (EADS) corporation, based in France and partly owned by the French, German, Spanish and Russian governments. The second is Alenia/Finmeccanica of Italy. Both European companies have teamed up with American firms to compete for the JCA contract, which is worth between $3 billion and $5 billion initially, but which some say could be as much as $20 billion over the years.

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