The Air Force decision to shield the LAS contract from a thorough review by invoking national security and the urgent need to deliver these planes to Afghanistan is all the more ridiculous when one remembers it was the Air Force’s gross mishandling that delayed the production of the planes in the first place. Had the Air Force conducted a fair and competitive procurement in 2011, their decision would not have been shrouded in doubt with lingering unanswered questions today. Moreover, they would have rightly selected a company with a proven record of meeting our military needs, Kansas-based Beechcraft, to manufacture LAS planes in the U.S by American workers.
The abuses and subsequent delay of the LAS acquisition lay at the feet of the Air Force. Instead of taking responsibility and allowing a modicum of transparency, Air Force officials have chosen to outsource jobs and our defense capabilities for years to come. Astonishingly, they are willing to do this even though the cost of the Brazilian aircraft is over budget by at least $120 million. The decision defies logic and the Air Force’s purported national security claims.
Our service members would be better served if LAS aircraft were produced here in U.S. by a manufacturer who does not have to answer to a foreign sovereign power. It is not in our long-term national security or economic interests to allow this flawed contract decision to stand.