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Letter to Chairman Buck McKeon and Ranking Member Adam Smith - House Caucus Challenges Air Force's Light Support Contract

May 17, 2013

Chairman Buck McKeon Ranking Member Adam Smith
Armed Services Committee Armed Services Committee
2120 Rayburn HOB 2120 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman McKeon and Ranking Member Smith,

As members of the House Manufacturing Caucus, we write to you concerning the recent U.S. Air Force decision to award the Ligh
Thet Air Support contract to Brazilian-based Embraer over Wichita, Kansas-based Beechcraft. The initial contract to deliver 20 planes to Afghanistan is worth approximately $427.5 million, with a current ceiling of $950 million. However, what is most concerning is the global marketplace for light air support (LAS) aircraft and the off-shoring of a generation of U.S manufacturing jobs.

This single acquisition will become the program of record for the "Building Partnership Capacity (BPC) of Partner States." The USAF has stated in Congressional testimony that as many as 27 countries may purchase this aircraft through BPC. Even modest projections suggest the potential value of this award could be as high as $10 billion -- in procurement dollars alone.

The U.S. aerospace industrial base, which the DOD and our Nation rely upon to produce the finest military capabilities in the world, will be harmed by this decision and the American taxpayer will foot this bill. Brazil's aerospace industrial base and workforce will be strengthened, while the U.S. is weakened, if the Department of Defense's move to establish Embraer as the LAS program of record for the BPC is allowed to stand. Financed with as much as $1 billion in American taxpayer funding, Brazil will market its aircraft as the LAS program of record around the world.

While Beechcraft is headquartered in Kansas, it depends upon a strong supplier base spread across 38 states. The award of the LAS program to a foreign sovereign is particularly troubling at a time of continued high unemployment, budget sequestration, and the expected continued decline in U.S. defense budgets. Budget sequestration combined with declining defense budgets is already squeezing manufacturing jobs out of existence in the U.S.

This decision also puts the Brazilian government, which has operational direction in Embraer, in control of a U.S. national security asset, while at the same time putting at risk over 1,400 high skill U.S. jobs. Unbelievably, an innovative U.S. workforce will face job loss while their tax dollars are used to fund the growth of a foreign competitor. At a time of tightening Federal budgets, disinvestment in our aerospace industrial base and workforce is the wrong choice for America.

As the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act is drafted we ask that you consider legislative proposals to address these serious concerns.

Sincerely,Members of House Manufacturing Caucus Challenge Air Force's Light Aircraft Support Contract
Congressman Tim Ryan
Congressman Tom Reed
Congressman Matthew Cartwright
Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth
Congressman Dan Lipinski
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur
Congressman Mike Pompeo
Congressman Michael Michaud

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