U.S. Defense Contract Awarded To Brazilian Company
By: John Hampton
In December of 2011, the United States Air Force awarded a $355 million dollar contract to a company called Embraer. The contract called for the company to build an initial allotment of 35 Light Air Support (LAS) aircraft, with more to come later. This was to be the first pay out of a Defense contract which has a total value estimated at $900 million dollars. Through a program called Building Partner Capacity, the Air Force will employ the new LAS aircraft in Afghanistan, for the purpose of close air support beginning in 2013.
Another aircraft manufacturer, Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC), had hoped to bid on the same contract, but was prevented from doing so. HBC is quite familiar with military specifications and performance standards as they have to date, provided more than 500 T-6 trainer aircraft to the U.S. military. In addition, over the last 2 years, HBC has spent $100 million dollars on research and development in order to deliver the most technologically advanced and capable aircraft available. HBC had hoped to win the LAS contract with its AT-6, an armed version of its already proven T-6. But before the contract was officially awarded to Embraer, officials at HBC received notification from the Air Force saying that the AT-6 was no longer being considered as a viable option.
This might be a good time to mention that HBC is an American company operating in Wichita KS, and Embraer is a Brazilian company. Embraer does have facilities in the U.S., and the planes will reportedly be built here, but the bottom line – Embraer is not an American company. Embraer is a large and well established aircraft manufacturer, but it is not an American company. Embraer has experience building military aircraft, but it is not an American company. HBC is an American company with a proven track record of providing high quality, durable and reliable equipment to the Air Force.
A Pentagon statement concluded in part that: multiple deficiencies and significant weaknesses found in HBC’s proposal make it technically unacceptable and results in unacceptable mission risk. As mentioned above, HBC knows military specifications and performance standards, and had spent $100 million dollars on R&D. Did they then suddenly forget how to build airplanes or abandon all past quality assurance practices while competing for a $900 million dollar contract?
Why are foreign manufacturers allowed to bid on U.S. Defense contracts? Throughout the course of this covenant, Embraer will be made privy to the most intimate details regarding U.S. military performance and operating capabilities. Will Embraer employees be properly vetted before exposure to this project? What assurance do we have that current or future U.S. technology will not be compromised after it is revealed to the Brazilian government?
In August of 2011, Brazilian Deputy Foreign Minister Maria Louisa met with her Iranian counterpart Ali Ahani in Brazil. The two discussed ways to improve relations between their countries. They also spoke of enhancing political and economic ties. Louisa described Iran as an important partner of Brazil and an influential country in the world. Ahani lauded the friendly relations between the two countries and said that both governments were eager to expand amities.
Brazil and Iran seem to have a cozy relationship. This may be further evidenced by Brazil’s choice to abstain when it came to a U.N. human rights vote regarding Iran. Under their previous president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s voting record at the U.N. Human Rights Council was less than exemplary.
And last but not least, Embraer is currently under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for possible violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The investigation was announced in November of 2011 and the contract was awarded in December of 2011. Only the U.S. government could deny a proven American contractor the opportunity to bid on a $900 million dollar Defense contract, and then award that same contract to a foreign company that it was already investigating for corrupt business practices.
Because they were excluded from the bid, HBC filed suit against the Air Force in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. This caused the Air Force to issue a stop-work order to Embraer and the LAS contract. Now the court must decide whether or not HBC was unfairly disqualified from the bid process.
Why does this administration continue to act in such a reckless and outrageous manner? Did they intentionally award this contract during the holiday season in hopes that no one would notice? Why did they exclude a veteran American company from the bid process? How could they award such a sizeable contract to a company that they themselves were investigating for corrupt business practices? And what about Brazil’s relationship with Iran? This is the same Iran that continues to be openly hostile toward the U.S.
These are but a few of the questions that need to be answered regarding this matter. But as we know, upper echelon politicians are quite adept at avoiding such questions. Our Country, our Constitution and the American people are running out of time. But if we can survive until November, we still have a chance!
John Hampton lives in Tehachapi CA and is quite concerned about the policies and motives of the current Administration. He believes in a system that holds our freedoms sacred, promotes personal responsibility, prudence and high moral standards.