Updating You on Air Force Tanker

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From my inbox again I bring you the latest updates on what is being done about the Air Force decision to outsource our refueling tankers. I do hope this helps you stay involved and up to date. There is nothing like grass-roots pressure to change the outcome of a bad decision.

Rallying Against the Tanker Decision

On March 19, I was joined by Congressman Rick Larsen, Governor Christine Gregoire and leaders from the labor community, together with Boeing workers, Boeing Workers Protest Tanker Decision at Rally. their families, and concerned citizens to protest the Air Force’s misguided decision to award a $40 billion tanker refueling contract to Airbus.

Over 500 workers crowded into the Machinists Hall in Everett.

I led off the rally, detailing the many reasons why we should not be outsourcing our national security capabilities, particularly at a time when our country is trending towards recession.

Murray talks with the Boeing Workers.This was one of the loudest, most energized rallies that I have ever attended. You could feel the passion and the pride that our 767 team has for their tanker. I spoke with dozens of workers, all echoing the same message: We have the better tanker, we have proven we can provide a quality product, let us do our job.

I agree with them, and will continue working to make sure that in the end we make the right choice for the tanker contract.

I love it when American Citizens get passionate about something. And while the Boeing may not have the most stellar history in the world, at least the jobs are here, the money STAYS in the economy, and it shores up our moral! Senator Murray went on with these remarks:

Wow – look at this crowd!

If the energy in this room today doesn’t send a message back to Washington, D.C., and those folks at the Pentagon, I don’t know what will.

I’m so proud to be here today with the best workforce in the world.

You’ve helped make Boeing the worldwide standard of excellence, and I want to thank you for your work and dedication – not just since the Air Force made their short-sighted announcement, but all the way through this process.

Your work and your passion are a testament to the American spirit – and they represent the best of what our country has to offer.

It has now been three weeks since I stood on the 767 line – when the Air Force decided to award a critical $40 billion contract to an illegally subsidized foreign company – instead of Boeing.

Like you, my shock turned to anger when the Air Force decided it would give away our jobs – and the control of our national defense – to a foreign company…When our government said it would rather outsource jobs than create them here in Everett and across the country. And when it said it would rather send a U.S. military contract to a company that has never built a refueling tanker – or any military plane for our country.

That day I talked with Tom about how this decision would impact this community, your union, and the next generation of American aerospace workers.

That day, I vowed to fight for you, and for America’s military strength.

And today I’m back from D.C. to report that over these last three weeks those of us on this stage have been working with one mind, one focus, and with one goal – to bring this contract back to America and the workers here in Everett where it belongs!

Now as I’m sure all you know, this effort won’t be easy and it won’t be quick.

But it won’t be successful unless we have the courage to stand up and fight.

I believe that fight begins with waking up the American people to the realities of what this decision will mean – here in Everett – in Kansas – in Washington D.C. – and everywhere in between.

We need to wake people up to the reality that you – and all the workers at Boeing – are the best trained, most experienced in the aerospace industry.

* We have machinists who have passed experience and know-how down the ranks for 50 years.
* We have engineers who know our mission and the needs of our airmen and women.
* And we have a reputation for delivering for our military.

In short – we have a workforce ready to build a plane on Day One.

But what does Airbus have?

Well, Airbus has – as Tom puts it, “a paper airplane” – a plane that only exists on paper. And it has workforce that has never built a tanker – and that has never had the weighty responsibility of supporting our men and women in uniform.

We also need to spread the word that if we don’t preserve our domestic aerospace industry, we will lose it. I fear what this contract means for our economy – and our national security. Once our industry is gone, it can’t be rebuilt overnight.

Should we pay other countries to take our technology and make it their own?

Should we be investing in what amounts to a European jobs program as we slip into recession?

I think the answer is no – and I know that most Americans agree with us.

I’ll make sure they hear our voices.

And finally, we need to wake the American people up to the fact that this was an unfair competition from the beginning.

Because the truth is that no matter how hard you all work – or how much experience you bring to the table – you aren’t competing on a level playing field. Airbus will always rely on European countries, which support it with massive subsidies. Our government is so concerned about this that we have brought a case against the European Union at the WTO.

So I’ve been asking a simple question of everyone in Washington, D.C., who had a hand in this decision – why is our government fighting the Europeans over subsidies – and at the same time giving them a $40 billion contract to build our country’s tankers?

I can’t seem to get a straight answer on that one.

And that’s not the only question I can’t get answered.

In fact, every briefing and hearing that I’ve taken part in raises more questions than answers.

But I promise you one thing today – that’s not going to stop me from getting answers.

And I’m glad that Boeing is pressing for answers, too.

Boeing is appealing this decision – and that must mean that there are some serious irregularities – because that doesn’t happen every day.

So, I’m proud to stand here as a representative of the state where Bill Boeing started a little all-American company back in 1916.

And I’m proud to stand here as representative for you – the workers who have been building the best airplanes in the world for 75 years.

Friends, I want to let every one of the 45,000 machinists represented by IAM 751 that I will always be your ally in this fight.

Whether it takes weeks – or months – or years – I’m going to be with you.

Whether it’s on the Senate floor – or at the Pentagon – or anywhere else – I will speak out for you.

I urge you all to visit my web site, and sign our petition. I know you’re with me in this fight.

Together, we are going to ensure that the best qualified, most experienced workers continue to build our nation’s tankers.

Join the Fight!

 

Now from the TriCityHerald.com we have this news article:

Friday, Mar. 28, 2008
Air Force hurts itself with tanker contract

It isn’t just Washington that is being hurt by the bungled Air Force contract for a new type tanker plane.

It’s the Air Force too.

Fortunately, both houses of Congress seem to be awakening to just how messed up the Air Force procurement office has become.

If the critics are correct, the procedure that chose a French contractor over Boeing for a $35 billion (for starters) contract for new aerial tankers was switched in mid-process to favor the French bid — and Boeing wasn’t even told about it.

The Air Force procurement officers say they simply were trying to keep the Airbus bidders in the game. Instead, the Air Force seems to have forfeited the contest to the French.

That’s more than incentive for the Europeans. It’s an unfair and possibly illegal advantage.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is among those demanding answers from the Air Force on this strange — no, if the critics are correct the better word is bizarre — chain of events.

First the Air Force procurement office said it wanted a medium-sized tanker that would give it flexibility in aerial refueling of many kinds of aircraft.

So Boeing came up with precisely what the Air Force wanted.

Airbus showed no interest.

Then in order to get a competitor, the Air Force honeyed up the deal to fit something Airbus could provide.

But according to the critics, the Air Force didn’t tell Boeing about the change, or if it did tell anyone, lulled them into confidence by stressing they just wanted to keep a second bidder in.

Murray says she’s been told that to use the Airbus, the Air Force will have to make extensive infrastructure changes at many air bases to accommodate the larger planes.

That wouldn’t be needed for the Boeing planes, which would fit handily into existing areas.

And the lighter Boeing machines would be able to operate from many air bases and runways that cannot be retrofit to handle the heavier Airbus planes.

So.

The Air Force procurement office went from ordering flexible planes to ordering inflexible and unsuitably large airplanes for reasons not in the specifications put out for bids.

It’s a good thing the Government Accounting Office will examine this thing to see if it is even legal.

And it is important that the House and Senate take a look at it, too.

Yes, we’re parochial enough to be worried about Boeing losing a big job to an overseas competitor.

And we’re concerned that Airbus might not have been selected if not for European government subsidies that allow it to make bids that are below actual cost.

But primarily, we’re concerned that the Air Force is making a purchase dictated by procedural concerns when the people in the field — the people operating this extremely expensive machinery in hazardous conditions — told their superiors they wanted something entirely different than what they are going to get if this deal is allowed to stand.

Bring on the investigators and their questions.

I wrote about this very thing back on 3-17-08. You can find the report Here: It is nice to see that the Air Force now finally admits they did this. Of course, I got the lead from someone who viewed another article I wrote on Boeing and the Air Force and EADS and left me a comment. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it when there is discussion on these articles. I don’t know it all and I can only learn what I am pointed to or what I discover on my own.

I also feel that it is extremely important right now that we keep US Dollars at home. Why should Europe gain jobs when here in America we are hurting so badly? Why should there be a huge jump in employment overseas when we need the boost in OUR economy? Get involved if you haven’t already. Raise your voice and show your support for OUR economy and OUR jobs.

I don’t know about you but there just seems to be some common sense issues here. Issues like National Security, American Jobs, the Economy, common sense period. What are those in positions of decision making thinking? Who was paid what? Why did they change their minds mid-bid? Will we ever know the real story? Not if we don’t stay, or get, involved. Let them hear from you today. Raise your voices and be heard! ROAR America!

Some serious questions being raised on this issue by Senator Murray are:

What happens if that government disagrees with us on foreign policy? What if it decides it wants to slow down our military capacity? Do we want another country to have that kind of control?

Second, I question why the Air Force was not required to take the economic impact into consideration when it awarded this contract.

That brings me to my final point today, Mr. President. Why didn’t the Air Force consider these obvious questions about national security and economic security?

Did the Air Force pull a bait and switch with this contract? Did it unfairly change the process to benefit EADS?

Some serious questions indeed. I hope we get the answers to these and more one day. In the meantime, I’ll keep you posted as things come to my attention. I know this is only one of the issues of importance to us all.

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~ by justmytruth on April 1, 2008.

4 Responses to “Updating You on Air Force Tanker”

  1. I think your statement is both untrue and unfair where it concerns the safety of our men and women in uniform. While our tankers need replacing, they are not dead. And it is bush who has placed our men and women in uniform in danger. Through lies and deceit he manipulated this country into war.

    As for Boeing and EADS, we shall see how this thing plays out. Tell me, do you work for Northrup Grumman or EADS?

  2. In announcing that Northrop Grumman had won the bid, Air Force Assistant Secretary for Acquisition Sue Payton stated unequivocally that there was constant, open communication between her group and the two competitors. Each side had a chance, through multiple steps, to protest or question anything that they felt was going awry in the process. Boeing accepted the playing field as it was and remained silent. In fact, company officials repeatedly praised the openness of the process. It was only after they lost that they found it to be unfair.

    Now Boeing is protesting, thereby delaying even further a long overdue upgrade in the nation’s capacity to refuel its warplanes. In a fit of pique, Boeing has decided that petty political infighting takes precedence over the interests of our men and women in uniform.

  3. Either you aren’t following this story or whatever, but your arguments, while making sense for corporations, don’t make sense for the military, especially in terms of “defense”. This is something that only the USA should be dealing with regardless. Our military should never depend on another country for anything in this department.

    They should especially NOT change the bidding contract in the middle of the process without telling BOTH sides. Nor should they be even considering a company for which the entire GOV. is in a court dispute with.

  4. The Air Force is charged with getting the best bang for its defense bucks, not propping up U.S. manufacturing. And although keeping jobs in their districts is an understandable concern for lawmakers, it shouldn’t factor into the government’s contracting process, especially in defense contracts.

    Protecting jobs at all costs could result in higher costs for taxpayers, and possibly even lower quality products as manufacturers realize they don’t have to compete with overseas companies. Boeing and EAD, parent company of Airbus, are two of the few companies in the world making large aircraft capable of being converted to tankers. Cutting out foreign competition would leave Boeing free to charge what it wanted. That’s never a good deal for the taxpayer.

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