I've written a couple of times now of an ongoing saga about an American weapons manufacturer, Hawker Beechcraft, being excluded from a bidding process for reasons that are as yet undiscovered. I additionally noted my concern related to the company that the contract was ultimately granted to, a Brazilian company named Embraer, because of their close relationship with the Brazilian government and the Brazilian government's close relationship with Iran.
The circumstances as they have been laid out are frankly odd. If Embraer had the superior product, why not simply allow them to win the bidding process as opposed to disqualifying Hawker? If there was a problem with Hawker's proposal that could disqualify them, couldn't they at least be informed as to what it is to have the opportunity to address it in order to stay competitive in the bidding process? Most importantly to me, am I the only one that sees red flags with a foreign company that has ties to Iran building weapons for the United States military?
I think these are legitimate questions about something that I find concerning and are worthy of being asked and answered.
However, as I've written about it, there are some that have reached out to me to essentially say that everything is above board and basically that there's nothing to see here. The evidence of this seems to be nothing more than that the people claim it to be so and are very upset that these questions are being asked. In fact, one commenter in my last post on the subject flat out told me that the request by Hawker for clarification on the reason for their disqualification will cause American soldiers to die.
As I've stated in my previous articles, I could easily believe that the government had completely legitimate reasons for disqualifying Hawker. Anything is possible. However, there are looming questions that I think are appropriate to ask and apparently others agree with me.
Those people include member of Congress Mike Pompeo, Dan Lipinski, Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA), Lynn Westmoreland, Michael McCaul, Tom McClintock, Steve King, Adam Kinzinger, Anne Marie Buerkle, Mike Fitzpatrick, Kathy Castor, Robert Aderholt, Spencer Bachus, Christopher Murphy, Bobby Rush, Elton Gallegly, Paul Gosar, Kevin Yoder, MoBrooks, Trey Gowdy, Tim Griffin, Tim Huelskamp and Lynn Jenkins.
They are the undersigned for the following letter sent to Leon Panetta at the Pentagon:
Dear Secretary Panetta,
On December 22, 2011, the United States Air Force (USAF) awarded a $355 million contract to Sierra Nevada/Embraer for Light Air Support (LAS) aircraft to be used by the Afghan National Army Air Force. This award represents the first USAF purchase made under the LAS contract’s $950 million ceiling. Prior to the award, the USAF controversially excluded Hawker Beechcraft (HBC) from competition, creating what amounts to a sole-source contract for the Brazilian-based jet manufacturer, Embraer. We respectfully request the Department to provide Congress with a thorough explanation as to why the USAF excluded Hawker Beechcraft from the competition.
Up until the time the USAF excluded HBC, LAS was a closely fought contest between the Hawker Beechcraft Corporation’s AT-6B and Embraer’s Super Tucano. The U.S. taxpayers have already invested billions of dollars into the U.S. Air Force and Navy T-6 trainer fleets built and maintained by HBC. This investment has allowed Hawker to make a competitive LAS bidthat leverages and maximizes the existing logistics, support, and pilot training investment already made by the United States Government. HBC is a trusted supplier to the U.S. military and a valued part of many local communities.
Mr. Secretary, we believe it is important that the Air Force be abundantly transparent and forthright given that it has excluded an American company from a significant competition. We hope you recognize the importance of this situation.
Thank you for your personal attention to this matter.
During the Bush years, "no bid contracts" became a very dirty word. Haliburton was the devil incarnate to much of the left. I and others, defended the decision because the administration put forth explanations showing that Haliburton was uniquely positioned to handle the tasks awarded to them.
Apparently, in this situation, there is no apparent forthcoming explanation. All I see is an eminently qualified American company losing the opportunity to bid against a foreign owned entity with strong ties to a government that has been friendly to one of our greatest enemies in the Middle East.
In the end, if Hawker Beechcraft is shown to have been woefully inadequate in their bid, I'll happily stop asking these questions. But remaining silent on an issue that raises red flags this high just isn't an option.
Transparency is needed on this issue.