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Kansas delegation blasts defense department on Boeing snub

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[(AFP) U.S. lawmakers blast defense department:][1] Lawmakers have reacted angrily after the U.S. military awarded a $35 billion aircraft deal to Europe's Northrop Grumman/EADS group, in a major blow to U.S. manufacturer Boeing. "It's stunning to me that we would outsource the production of these airplanes to Europe instead of building them in America," said Republican Sen. Sam Brownback about the Pentagon's decision. "I'll be calling upon the secretary of defense for a full debriefing and expect there will be a protest of the award by Boeing." The U.S. Defense Department announced Friday that it was awarding the deal for a fleet of in-flight refueling craft to the Northrop Grumman/EADS team, in a huge coup for Boeing's main rival, Airbus. The surprise choice of EADS marks the European group's entry into the lucrative U.S. defense market, where so far it had had only a marginal presence. Boeing voiced strong disappointment after the contract slipped through its hands and said it would ask for an explanation. "Once we have reviewed the details behind the award, we will make a decision concerning our possible options," said Boeing spokesman William Barksdale, hinting at a possible protest. While European political and industry leaders have hailed the decision, many Republicans have been left seething. "We should have an American tanker built by an American company with American workers," said Republican Rep. Todd Tiahrt, of Wichita. "I cannot believe we would create French jobs in place of Kansas jobs." Boeing, the second-leading U.S. defense contractor after Lockheed Martin, had been considered the heavy favorite for the contract. According to its Web site, Boeing is the largest employer in Kansas. The contract for the newly named tanker, the KC-45, is one of the largest Pentagon contracts in recent years and the first order on a tanker market valued at more than $100 billion in more than 30 years. [1]: http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=080301224212.az5r6vht&show_article=1

Comments

mom_of_three 6 years, 9 months ago

This is from the Wichita Eagle - http://www.kansas.com/business/updates/story/326173.html

"If Boeing is selected, Wichita would become a finishing center for the tankers. The contract would mean 300 to 500 jobs to assemble and test the tankers in Wichita and another 500 jobs through local suppliers, including Spirit AeroSystems."

So yes, some Kansas workers may lose their jobs because the U.S. Defense department chose to take jobs overseas

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 9 months ago

I don't get it.

They better have a darn good reason to stiff the Americans.

Steve Jacob 6 years, 9 months ago

You would have to think they knew the backlash of not picking Boeing, so something had to be wrong with the Boeing, or something good about the Northrop Grumman/EADS.

pisafromthewest 6 years, 9 months ago

mom_of_three (Anonymous) says:

"So yes, some Kansas workers may lose their jobs because the U.S. Defense department chose to take jobs overseas"

Well, not exactly. It means some Kansas residents might not get jobs, not that 800 or 1000 already working will lose them.

And, as I said in the other thread on this topic: Shouldn't we be giving our servicemen and women the best product we can buy, rather than worrying about creating jobs to build them something less? If Boeing wanted to win the contract away from Northrop & Airbus, maybe they should have come up with a better plane.

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 9 months ago

I am certain this decision was made on the merits of the existing assets...NOT.

Sounds like somebody needed a favor from some well connected people.

Ever wonder what we actually get for our tax dollars. Like the $300 million we gave the President of Pakistan to be our buddy?

I hope its not one of those kind of deals.

compmd 6 years, 9 months ago

This has far greater problematic implications.

1) Northrop Grumman has not designed a new airplane since the B-2. And even that was heavily influenced by the YB-49 and the structural work was done by Boeing. The last airplane fully designed by Northrop Grumman was the F-14, and it is no longer in service.

2) The Airbus A330 (what the KC-45 is based on) will require that crew and support staff receive significant retraining, paid for with our tax dollars. The KC-45 is a sidestick controlled aircraft unlike most Boeing aircraft, including the KC-135 that the KC-45 will be replacing. Maintenance on a completely foreign aircraft will have a nontrivial learning curve.

3) What kind of longevity can the US expect to get out of the KC-45? The aircraft used for KC-135s have been in service for almost 40 years. They have proven extremely flexible and upgradeable. The KC-135R has a glass cockpit, and the engines have been upgraded from JT8Ds (I think) to GE CFM56s for far greater fuel efficiency.

4) Significant work will be required to disable the autoretreat system integrated into the navigation and flight control systems of the aircraft. As this was considered flight critical by Airbus, it was designed to be triply redundant, and thus will be very difficult to remove. (This is a joke, you're supposed to laugh.)

I, for one, am quite disappointed with the DoD's decision.

pisafromthewest 6 years, 9 months ago

jayhawklawrence (Anonymous) says:

I am certain this decision was made on the merits of the existing assets:NOT.

Sounds like somebody needed a favor from some well connected people.


You mean like this?

http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/news/2003/031125-boeing-scandal.htm

daddax98 6 years, 9 months ago

I am of 2 minds on this one

on the one hand if the Boeing plane is inferior to the AirBus offering, as has been claimed, then the DD is correct in choosing the latter; i would rather have foreign quality over domestic junk.

On the other hand I find it hard to believe that Boeing would not have done any and everything in their power to meet the needs of the government.

How can we believe a government that claims to want to keep American jobs in the states when it sends its own business overseas? With the falling dollar I would think could get more bang for our buck spending the money here, but I am no economist

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 9 months ago

pisafromthewest:

Not a bad link.

I remember working in Phoenix for a Machine Tool sales company back in 1983. The dealer I worked with said the only way to get the local military brass to buy your equipment was to make sure you got them a new set of wheels for their personal vehicle.

I also remember in the movie "Aviator" how Howard Hughes had to play that game to stay in good with the military buyers.

I guess I am just wondering whether the Boeing incident is an isolated event or business as usual and how involved are the European governments involved in propping up AirBus. It's hard to compete with that you know. Sort of like competing with China Inc.

US Companies fight with one hand tied behind their back and sometimes both and we still find ways to win. But it's not a fair fight.

8ball 6 years, 9 months ago

wow,not only is 3/4 of the world against us,but now the american goverment is against us as well, the money saved will be spent on training on new jobs for those who lost their jobs in the first place,what a vicious circle

pisafromthewest 6 years, 9 months ago

daddax98 (Anonymous) says:

"On the other hand I find it hard to believe that Boeing would not have done any and everything in their power to meet the needs of the government."

Unfortunately, to some extent this was predestined. To my understanding, neither plane is an entirely new design. Both are derived from (and would presumably use many of the same parts and assembly facilities as) existing passenger aircraft. It is quite possible that Boeing could build a plane exactly like or superior to the one based on the A330, but building a new aircraft from the ground up is an exceedingly cost-prohibitive undertaking. The end result may have been a comparable plane, but at twice the cost (by the time you factored in design costs, tooling and other gear-up costs, etc.).

Now, I would like to think that as an ideal, the cost shouldn't be the deciding factor in the equipment we give to our troops. But realistically money is not an infinite commodity, and if you can only buy half as many, that has a negative effect on the troops, too.

pisafromthewest 6 years, 9 months ago

jayhawklawrence (Anonymous) says:

"I guess I am just wondering whether the Boeing incident is an isolated event or business as usual and how involved are the European governments involved in propping up AirBus. It's hard to compete with that you know. Sort of like competing with China Inc."

I am not so naive as to believe Boeing is the only one who acted in such a way. And I believe the European government does heavily subsidize Airbus. But that's besides the point. Whether it's unfair competition or not, I still think the deciding factor in what we give to the armed forces should be which is a superior product, not whether more Americans get jobs or whether the government subsidizes the manufacturer. If the SU-30 was as good as a Raptor, I wouldn't care if they were buying fighters from Russia.

All of which is moot ... if the Europeans didn't subsidize Airbus or the US government gave equal subsidies to Boeing, I don't think it would be enough to tip the scales in favor of building an entirely new aircraft to compare to the existing A330.

OnlyTheOne 6 years, 9 months ago

Has anybody ever considered how America will defend herself with no manufacturing ability left in the US? Heck it took years to gear up fully for WWII and then we actually had a manufacturing base. Now all people can think of is buying from overseas. You support your own folks! If you don't who will? When it's your job that's gone what will you say then? Well, you know that guy over there undoubtedly is better on the telephone than I. He (she) should have my job.

Sean Livingstone 6 years, 9 months ago

Mother of three:

"So yes, some Kansas workers may lose their jobs because the U.S. Defense department chose to take jobs overseas"

The plant by Airbus will be located in Alabama. This is part of the globalization process, like it or not. For example, an average Toyota you drive is Made in the USA, and over 50% of the components are from the USA. Do you call Toyota a foreign import? For BMW, normally 95% from Europe. Some American-made cars have as high as 80% of foreign imported components, several models are actually made overseas and then shipped in (if I'm not wrong, Aveo is one of them).

Welcome to the globalized economy.

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 9 months ago

pisafromthewest:

Good point about quality and features. I just find it hard to believe that AirBus is better or necessarily cheaper. I guess I would like to learn more about the deal.

Boeing is doing very well right now but they make a superior product. I just think our preference should always be our own country whenever possible. If the shoe is on the other foot, nobody cries any tears of the Americans.

Sean Livingstone 6 years, 9 months ago

I'm against protectionism. It will make a country less competitive. $40 billion is nothing, don't be so short-sighted. The market is way larger, the trade gap between US and the world is often due to direct investment.... the first Ford principle... the make everyone rich so that they have the money to buy from Ford (while at the same time buy other people's products). If you put the global economy into view, the direct investment will actually make some countries richer and thus the money will flow back. Take for example, China's demand for goods from Pennslyvannia has doubled since 2005 even though the rest of the other states are still fighting to cut back trade deficits. Globalization has not just affected the US, but also many other countries, many citizens, just like many Americans don't like globalization. But it has brought about huge amount of wealth, that we have not seen in years. Look at it more rationally. We've the sentiment to look at our past and say, Walmart destroyed our lifestyle... but didn't we know that changes are needed and are coming by the way? Globalization should be better controlled, like some countries should be punished (trade war for trade war). Of course, if you don't look at data carefully, the first country seems like China. But in fact, China has a more open economy than Japan, Korea, and even Germany! China is now flooded with western goods.... time to ship in more! They're hungry. A trade war will not help.

welcome to the globalized economy!

pisafromthewest 6 years, 9 months ago

jayhawklawrence (Anonymous) says:

"Good point about quality and features. I just find it hard to believe that AirBus is better or necessarily cheaper. I guess I would like to learn more about the deal."

I'm not sure the Northrop-Airbus contender was cheaper; that was one of the factors, but not the only one. I said that the design based on the existing Airbus A330 was cheaper than Boeing designing an entirely new airframe.

Ditto with the features. The limitations come into play because both contenders are based on existing aircraft - this was a huge factor that tilted the decision almost to the point of a forgone conclusion. Neither would have been able to cost-effectively compete by offering an entirely new design so they both ran with what they had. And the A330 is larger and carries more than the 767.

Had they both gone with all-new designs, who knows how it might have turned out ... despite the heavy subsidies, the European consortiums have not been able to make a fighter better than the Raptor. But in the end the cost would have been much, much higher, possibly to levels which would have been dangerous. I believe the number of new tankers being bought is replacing a much larger fleet of older ones. If we cut that number further due to much higher costs, you start running into problems of readiness and breakdowns from over-use.

In general, all other factors being equal, I would also like to see the products we buy for the armed services to be made here. But in the absence of a competitive design, I'm more in favor of the servicemen and women having the best we can give them.

toefungus 6 years, 9 months ago

Now, if AirBus would just hire illegal immigrants to assemble the plane, we will have a complete effort.

notajayhawk 6 years, 9 months ago

compmd (Anonymous) says:

"4) Significant work will be required to disable the autoretreat system integrated into the navigation and flight control systems of the aircraft. As this was considered flight critical by Airbus, it was designed to be triply redundant, and thus will be very difficult to remove. (This is a joke, you're supposed to laugh.)"

I, for one, am LMAO. Thanks for the chuckle.

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 9 months ago

pisafromthewest:

You made some good points today. I guess we need to study this deal more carefully.

mom_of_three 6 years, 9 months ago

I guess no one noticed I was answering a question about the first posting with a quote from the Wichita Eagle.

But it comes down to that the lack of the contract will hurt the Wichita economy, which is the last thing it needs right now.

pisafromthewest 6 years, 9 months ago

mom_of_three;

As I said above in response to your post, this does not result in a job loss, just that no new jobs will be created. In other words, it doesn't hurt Wichita, it just doesn't help Wichita.

pisafromthewest 6 years, 9 months ago

cool (Anonymous) says:

"would we need these tankers if we didn't have the useless war in afghanistan/iraq ?"

Yes.

Sean Livingstone 6 years, 9 months ago

toefungus (Anonymous) says:

"Now, if AirBus would just hire illegal immigrants to assemble the plane, we will have a complete effort."

You need certification to build aircrafts... so illegals normally don't have them.

jaketh 6 years, 9 months ago

Boeing did get the first opportunity to bid for the new generation air tanker, KC-45 without any competitive open tender bidding. This was all hush hush...nudge nudge... Boeing's price tag was exorbitant to a point where our tax dollars would have gone to waste plus a corruption scandal. The DoD did the right thing (or was forced to) by opening up the KC-45 bid. It is just so that Northrop/EADS consortium beat Boeing. The Northrop consortium is providing the DoD with a better plane that flies longer & with more fuel capacity that suits the need of the 21st century military.

If Boeing had not bungled their initial bid due to the conflict of interest/corruption charges, then, they probably would still be building the KC-45 tanker without any competitive bidding & with probably a higher price tag as well. If they cared for American jobs, then, they should have practised sound corporate ethics.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=87823943

Brent Garner 6 years, 9 months ago

Would like to add to what compmd said. In addition to those points, the Boeing bid came in significantly less expensive than the Northrup/EADS bid. However, the Northrup/EADS bid stated they would deliver a plane with a greater refueling load/capacity. According to one article I read, a anonymous spokesperson (where do they get all these anonymous people?) said that the greater capacity was the deciding factor. Since then I have read a couple of articles that suggest that the airframe Airbus would use suffers from significant corrosion problems. Assuming that is true, and it was reported by someone who said he did maintenance on such aircraft, then the USAF may be buying a problem child. Unfortunately, another factor might easily be the former corruption scandal surrounding the previous bid by Boeing. Perhaps the USAF just didn't want to go anywhere near Boeing because of it.

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