USAF versus "Military Industrial Complex"

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by SteveHd, Mar 1, 2008.

  1. SteveHd

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    News synopsis:

    WASHINGTON - The Air Force on Friday awarded Northrop Grumman Corp. and a European partner a $35 billion contract to build airborne refueling planes, delivering a major blow to Boeing Co.

    Full story: Northrop, EADS win $35B Air Force deal - Yahoo! News

    Subtitle: "Military Industrial Complex" wins again :smile:

    Here's brief chronology, per my memory:
    • Earlier this decade USAF did an extensive analysis of the KC-135 [aerial tanker] fleet. Most were found to be structurally sound despite their age. Major concern: engines. The conclusion: The aircraft are good for another 20-30 years [at then current average flight hours] but the engines are nearly shot. Some aircraft have had their engines replaced with modern engines [CFM56] but most had 40+ y/o engines.
    • USAF decides to keep the KC-135s but replace the older engines. They formally request funding from Congress to replace older engines.
    • The military industrial complex weighs in: Boeing proposes a lease 767 of derived aircraft to replace the KC-135s.
    • USAF categorically rejects the proposal. They will consider purchase but not a lease.
    • Score: USAF: 1, MIC: 0
    • MIC does an end-round and persuades Congress to force USAF to reconsider the 767 lease project.
    • Score: USAF: 1, MIC: 1
    • A scandal hit the news ... I'll skip the gory details and just say USAF persuaded Congress to re-bid the proprosal.
    • Score: USAF 2, MIC: 1
    • Sensing an opportunity EADS teams with NorthrupGrumman and proposes assembling A330 derived aircraft in USA and offer as a purchase. USAF allows the proposal to proceed but defers final decision for consultation with Congress.
    • Boeing modifies their proposal to purchase [instead of lease] of 767 based aircraft.
    • Oddly-? there wasn't much discussion of the original plan to merely replace the engines on the KC-135s.
    • Score: USAF 2, MIC: 2
    • Yesterday's news, USAF approved purchase of 4 development aircraft from the EADS/N-G partnership.
    • Score: USAF 2, MIC: 3
    It appears the military industrial complex will win this one.

    Summary:
    • What USAF initially requested: new engines for the KC-135s.
    • What USAF got: new aircraft to replace the KC-135s.
    The be fair to the military industrial complex, merely replacing the engines on the KC-135s would have been rather costly, I'd estimate $40-60 million per plane and the planes would still be old.
     
  2. SteveHd

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    Doesn't anyone care to comment on the military industrial complex raking over the taxpayers? Or is that a boring "business as usual" story?

    For those readers in Europe, any satisfaction seeing EADS win a major contract from DoD? Even though it's via a proxy, NorthrupGrumman, this could get their "foot in the door".
     
  3. B_NineInchCock_160IQ

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    ::feigns outrage::
     
  4. TurkeyWithaSunburn

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    It's definately a downer for Boeing, and American jobs.

    Isn't NorthrupGrumman/EADS going to build it around an Airbus frame?

    I'm not surprised about the MIC winning. Afterall corporate welfare just cannot compete in the amount of money they receive from the govt vs the amount of social welfare, social assistance for poor people.

    And don't forget about the Osprey. Military didn't want it but somehow funding was made so they HAD to buy them. (I could be wrong, but that's my memory of it)

    An audit of the Pentagon a few years determined that they couldn't account for $1Trillion.
     
  5. SteveHd

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    x704, the KC45 will be "assembled" in Alabama from mostly imported parts derived from the A330.

    I read in my local paper that a NorthrupGrumman plant in Brevard Co. [near space center] could add a few hundred jobs so there's a little ripple here in my area.

    A good thing: it could bring more competition to defense aerospace oligopoly.

    The "Osprey" is another long story. It was nearly cancelled due to cost overruns and a big, really big, technical problem: something to do with "ring vortex" transition. It appears they fixed that. Ospreys were recently deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan [I forgot which] and so far are doing fine.

    I haven't heard about the missing $1 trillion. Maybe that's spread over a number of years?
     
  6. TurkeyWithaSunburn

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  7. SpeedoGuy

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    Airbus parts supplied to an assembly plant in the US? Interesting that the security of some jobs in the EU now will now be closely wedded to stability of spending by the US defense industry beast. How often does that happen?
     
  8. clecle3880

    clecle3880 New Member

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    Just my 2c...

    In my field - which will remain nameless for now - its not unusual for a Euro company to win and execute projects for the DoD or other branches of the U.S. Forces. In fact, its most often what happens. And quite honestly, being one of the decision makers, I can state for a certainty: Most Euro tech companies offer complete end-to-end solutions which puts them at the top of the stack; Not the same for the U.S. counterparts.

    There are several companies here with a more than 60% spread of euro-nationals making up the employee ranks, where the business of the company is almost 100% to supply technology and services to branches of the U.S. Forces. In order to work with the Forces...proxies are needed. So...a lot more than just the foot has been in the door already. This current happening is yet another one. NG is the leading proxy for much of these projects. You'd be surprised at the other proxies out there...especially the ones masquerading as solution providers.

    Still...my field will remain nameless :wink:. Oh...we can't stand alone. Its impossible.

    Rock out with your cock out mates!


     
  9. SpeedoGuy

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    I've followed the fitful progress of the V-22's development for decades. I confess I continue to have doubts about its usefulness and reliability after one crashed at an aiport I was visiting, killing nearly 20 marines aboard.
     
  10. SteveHd

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    I agree with all of your post. My comment about "foot in the door" referred to the magnitude of the contract. I don't recall anything of its size. The largest prior contract to a foreign co. that I can think of is the AV-8/Harrier contract and that required congressional approval.

    I'll expand on your comments and say Boeing isn't a purely "U.S." manufacturer. The 777 has subassemblies being made in U.K., Aus., and Japan to name a few. I estimate the most of the 767 tanker parts would have been U.S. sourced, though.
    I've been following it since ~2000. The crash you noted was in 2000 and I recall that was caused by the "ring vortex" problem. That problem wasn't resolved until mid-decade, approx 2005, I don't remember the exact time. NASA got involved and was very determined to fix it. I don't how what they did.
     
  11. tripod

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    I personally thought that your easily readable explanation of a complex subject was AMAZING SteveHD!! Damn if I didn't just learn a lot in a rather short time frame... kudos!!!! :biggrin1:
     
  12. eaglespga88

    eaglespga88 New Member

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    They are building a plant in Mobile, AL. So I cant figure out how this leads to lost american jobs. I am kind of happy for this (even though I wont see it for years) but NG birds are a shit ton easier maintenance-wise compared to Boeing. Thats what Im worried about, ease of maintenance, less downtime for the plane, the better its mission effectiveness/mission capable and ready ratings, the happier my bosses are, the less bs I have to deal with.
     
  13. SteveHd

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    The "lost" jobs would pertain to Boeing for sure. We need not feel bad for Boeing, they've sold 700+ 787s and are still raking in new sales. Sometime in the future they'll close the 767 line but by then the 787 will be full production. They won't be hurting.

    eaglespga88, when you say "NG birds are a shit ton easier maintenance-wise compared to Boeing" which Boeing aircraft are you referring to? KC-135? RC-137? B-52? F-15?
     
  14. D_Kaye Throttlebottom

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    Dude - I don't pretend to understand how you formed the argument that the prosecution of two Boeing executives and a pentagon official for their misdeeds should result in penalizing an entire company when there is another CEO that is operating in it's place and they have paid a penalty.

    More to the point I don't pretend to understand how that justifies outsources 20K jobs to Europe.

    There is a trend that is happening with replacement of aircraft and the AirForce is not looking at job loss, they are not look at the loss of taxes to the country when they outsource, because French companies don't pay american taxes.

    the Marine 1 replacement countract went was awarded to a french company
    the army's light utility helicopter replacement contract was awarded to another french company
    Now the air-refuiling tanker contract is going to EADS - and 20k Jobs with it.

    Boeing already lost ONE contract for those 2 executives. SO by your logic, once they have paid a fine and prosecuted those two executives, the rest of the aerospace industry is supposed to bail on Boeing and give it to a foreign contract first?

    What are we protecting then? Certainly not our job stability and what the f** are we producing any more?

    this is was piss poor move...

    and be clear...

    It was brought up on the floor in Congress today..

    Tandem to what I mentioned about McCain earlier...what is his oversight costing us if he over-reaches with it's consequences???
     
  15. SteveHd

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    Zoe,

    I'm not making a case that Boeing should lose the contract based upon the executive scandal. There are many other reasons, some of which I'm aware of, many others I'm not.

    I actually like Boeing and I would have preferred them offering better deal, but they didn't, apparently. The initial proposal of a lease was patently absurd. USAF initially made it clear they didn't want a lease. It appears their modified proposal was substandard to what EADS offered.

    I/M/O, EADS won the contract old-fashioned way: they offered a better deal!

    Whose estimate is the "20k jobs"?

    I have no doubt the Rep.Todd Tiahrt is "outraged". Umm ... just where is Boeing's Wichita plant? Maybe in his district? Is he being objective?
     
  16. ClaireTalon

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    The A330 is a design that never managed a real break-through in the market, mostly after one crashed within the Airbus perimeter during a test flight. Another story. So, I'd say this deal is probably the best deal Airbus has ever made regarding this special airframe: Modify it and rig it as KC-edition, then sell it through an established American armaments manufacturer (Northrop/Grumman, builder of the famous F-14 and B-2).

    On the other hand, Boeing has made a lot of mistakes with this deal. The Condit affair from 2003 and splashing Stonecipher for an office love affair that really can't be inflated into a scandal. Nice going, really. I don't think those are tactics that can secure multi-billion armaments order.
     
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