09 March 2013

What's More Important: Jobs in Kansas or Lives on the Battlefield?

For the third time, Kansas-based Beechcraft has lost the LAS contract. For the third time, the Kansas Congressional delegation insists their plane was better. If it actually was better, you'd think that just by mistake they might've won 1 or 2 of the previous competitions, huh?

So the Light Air Support contract has been a rolling, multi-year disaster, a microcosm of everything that's wrong with the military acquisitions system: meddling by politicians, incompetence by bureaucrats, and legal wrangling by the contractors. (Sierra Nevada filed suit itself at one point). Meanwhile US troops and their Afghan allies are without a lightweight, low-altitude air support plane that commanders first said was necessary in August 2009. Even without any further delay, the first planes -- whichever plane is chosen -- won't arrive in Afghanistan until after most US forces have withdrawn.

"I certainly don't want to delay this" any further, Pompeo told AOL Defense. "I am not asking for the Air Force to select the Beechcraft product. I would never do a such a thing. I'm asking them to run a fair and competitive bid process.... The Air Force, ultimately, by making the decision to completely start over, admitted that their first process was flawed."

This is just like the USAF tanker contract, which Northrup won multiple times, but kept getting derailed by Boeing protests. What's more important: battlefield performance, or jobs at home?

By: Brant

1 comment:

brtrain said...

"Better" or not, it's still a buy of only 20 planes, maybe 35, and they will be given to the Afghan Air Force (so the number of operational machines might decline to 10 or 12!).

It still amazes me that the United States hasn't had a good purpose-built close air support aircraft (except for the A-10, which was supposed to be a tank-buster) since the A-1 Skyraider.

The difference in price between these planes and the F-35 is stunning, though.