Late Thursday the Obama administration abruptly knocked Kansas aircraft maker Hawker Beechcraft out of contention for a $1 billion project to make a fleet of lightweight counterinsurgency aircraft for the Air Force. Hawker Beechcraft is, understandably, disturbed and asking questions.
The Air Force has notified Hawker Beechcraft Corp. that its Beechcraft AT-6 has been excluded from competition to build a light attack aircraft, a contract worth nearly $1 billion, the company said.
The company had hoped to its AT-6, an armed version of its T-6 trainer, would be chosen for the Light Air Support Counter Insurgency aircraft for the Afghanistan National Army Corps. The chosen aircraft also would be used as a light attack armed reconnaissance aircraft for the U.S. Air Force.
The piston planes are designed for counterinsurgency, close air support, armed overwatch and homeland security, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/ud7FDM).
Hawker Beechcraft officials said in a news release that they were “confounded and troubled” by the Air Force’s decision. The company said it is asking the Air Force for an explanation and will explore all options.
Hawker Beechcraft said it had been working with the Air Force for two years and had invested more than $100 million to meet the Air Force’s requirements for the plane. It noted that the Beechcraft AT-6 had been found capable of meeting the requirements in a demonstration program led by the Air National Guard.
“We have followed the Air Force’s guidance close, and based on what we have seen, we continue to believe that we submitted the most capable, affordable and sustainable light attack aircraft,” the company said.
The company has said that winning the contract would have kept its T-6 production line running after 2015. About 1,400 employees in 20 states – including 800 at Hawker Beechcraft in Wichita – work on the AT-6 and T-6 programs for Beechcraft and its U.S. suppliers and partners.
So that’s another 1,400 American jobs lost. And it gets worse. By knocking Hawker Beechcraft out, the Pentagon has limited the “competition” to one company, a company that is not only not an American manufacturer, it’s a government-owned entity with ties to our enemies. The company is Embraer, which is controlled by the government of Brazil and has close ties to the government of Iran, as Timothy Lee wrote for the Tatler on Nov. 10.
According to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, “In 1989, Brazil chose to sell Tucanos, Embraer’s relatively low cost and basic military aircraft, to Iran.” Currently, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Air Force operates around 40 Embraer T-27 Tucanos, according to the Washington Institute. In fact, the Iranians use the Tucano as their primary close air support aircraft.
In recent years, Brazil has continued its troubling friendship with Iran and ruthless leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Hudson Institute notes that, “Another area of tension between Brazil and the United States relates to Iran. In November 2009, President da Silva invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Brazil. In May 2010, da Silva helped broker a deal in which Iran would ship only a portion of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey for reprocessing; the rest would remain in Iranian hands, where it could be further enriched for nuclear weapon production.”
That willingness to set ethics aside for the betterment of their bottom line illustrates the danger in the US purchasing military aircraft from Brazil.
The matter becomes even more troublesome as news trickles out about the recent Iran-lead assassination attempts on Saudi/US officials on American soil. Even more recently, details have emerged implicating Iran as the mastermind of an illegal plot to smuggle electronic components used in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) out of the US through Iran for US on our troops in Iraq.
Why is the administration making a decision to exclude an American manufacturer in favor of a maker with such a history? This is the Obama administration’s second billion-dollar giveaway to the Brazilian government in 2011; the first was its outrageous offshore oil loan guarantee decision in March. The two decisions siphon more than $2 billion and more than 21,000 jobs out of the US economy. Of the two, putting a foreign manufacturer with ties to our enemies in charge of a project to build anti-terror weaponry may be the most disturbing. And this is the Obama administration’s second major decision against an American aircraft manufacturer, the first being the NLRB’s unprecedented lawsuit against Boeing and its South Carolina Dreamliner plant. Both states impacted — Kansas and South Carolina — are right-to-work states. And then there’s this president’s sustained rhetorical war against corporate jet owners. Somebody has to make those jets, and Hawker Beechcraft is among the manufacturers indirectly targeted.