First, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers threw a grenade into the debate today, as the House Appropriations Committee defense panel kicked off a hearing on the issue.
It's the usual union line of lost jobs etc. (I'd like to know exactly how Boeing arrives at the 40,000 number -- that seems like an awful lot to me and like a lot of rounding up was done).
Here's the release:
"It is a betrayal of American working men and women for the Air Force to outsource 44,000 U.S. jobs and tens of billions of dollars in investment to a French defense contractor that was only able to undercut an American competitor because it receives tens of billions of dollars in illegal trade subsidies subsidies over which the U.S. Trade Representative has brought the largest suit ever before the World Trade Organization (WTO). For the Department of Defense to reward these trade cheats with lucrative federal contracts, and outsource our most important defense capabilities and jobs to less experienced foreign companies, shows that something is wrong in Washington. Congress should take a very close look at whether to fund this kind of foolery."
I like the "trade cheats" and "foolery" lines -- real earthy language.
Not to be outdone, Northrop Grumman has fired back with its own defense of the matter, saying its win will create 25,000 new jobs, the tanker will contain 60 percent American parts and the competition was totally on the up and up.
I'll include the entire (point-by-point) release, but first I want to draw your attention to some comments made by Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) on the issue today at a SASC hearing on the Air Force 2009 budget.
(From FoxNews) --- "I feel very strongly that Congress should not get into the business of trying to rewrite a contract, particularly one of this magnitude and complexity," he said.
And AF Sec. Wynne also defended the decision...
The planes were judged on nine key criteria, he said, and "across the spectrum, all evaluated, the Northrop Grumman airplane was clearly a better performer."
Of course, he's going to defend it, but it looks like his line of defense is pretty agressive by saying it was a "clearly better performer." I've been wondering if what Bloomberg's Tony Capaccio was true that it was a "one point game." Clearly not.
The Northrop Grumman release:
-- The Northrop Grumman KC-45A tanker program will create a new aerospace manufacturing corridor in the southeastern United States.
-- The KC-45A program helps return competitiveness to the U.S. aerospace industry.
-- The Northrop Grumman KC-45A tanker program does not transfer any jobs from the United States to France or any other foreign country.
-- The KC-45A tanker will support more than 25,000 jobs in the United States.
-- The KC-45A U.S. supplier base will include 230 companies in 49 states.
-- Assembly and militarization of the KC-45A tanker will take place in Mobile, Ala., resulting in the in-sourcing of approximately 2,000 jobs from Europe to the United States.
-- The KC-45A competition underwent the most rigorous, transparentacquisition process in U.S. Department of Defense history.
-- Throughout the process, both competitors in the KC-45A aquisition hailed the Air Force for conducting a fair and open competition.
-- All modern jetliners are built from a global supplier base and the two entrants in the KC-45A competition are no exception. The Boeing tanker includes parts manufactured in Japan, United Kingdom, Canada and Italy. The Northrop Grumman tanker includes parts built in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and France.
-- The Northrop Grumman KC-45A will include approximately 60 percent U.S. content. It is America's tanker.
Foreign Suppliers to U.S. Military Programs
-- There are numerous examples of transatlantic cooperation on vital U.S. military programs. Foreign suppliers currently play essential roles in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the VH-71 Presidential Helicopter. In fact, on the C-27J Joint Cargo Aircraft program, Boeing is responsible for producing the Alenia Aeronautica (Italy) aircraft in Jacksonville, Fla.
-- No sensitive military technology will be exported to Europe. For the KC-45A program, a commercial A330 jetliner will be assembled by American workers in EADS's facility in Mobile. The aircraft will then undergo military conversion in an adjacent Northrop Grumman facility. All of the KC-45A's critical military technology will be added by an American company, Northrop Grumman, in America, in Mobile Ala.
(Some gouge: NC)