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Pricey New Presidential Choppers Not Made in U.S.A.

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by JBond, Mar 4, 2009.

  1. JBond

    JBond Well-Known Member

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    Pricey New Presidential Choppers Not Made in U.S.A.

    President Barack Obama’s entreaties to “buy American” to improve the economy apparently doesn’t include the fleet of new Marine One helicopters he’ll soon be shuttled around in.

    The Pentagon is spending $11.2 billion for 23 European-designed, British-built helicopters to replace the aging squadron of American aircraft used by American presidents for the past 30 years.

    Critics of the presidential purchase claim the contract for the new Lockheed Martin “US101” variant of the Italian choppers violates a decades-old law that requires weapons systems and components used by the U.S. military to be made primarily in the United States.

    Lockheed Martin Systems Integration - Owego is the prime contractor for the U.S. Navy's VH-71 Presidential Helicopter program. Troy Scully, a Lockheed Martin spokesman there, said the finished airframes contain enough U.S.-made components to satisfy current laws governing military purchases.

    The completed helicopters are delivered to Owego from Yeovil, England aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 for final assembly after being test flown in England. After being fitted with an electronics suite “as capable as what is on Air Force One” the new helicopters will be delivered to the Marine Corps to fly the President, Scully said.

    The Pentagon turned down Sikorsky Aircraft’s bid for an American made “Marine One” helicopter fleet despite strong lobbying from a powerful group of Republicans who wanted the new helicopter made by Sikorsky Aircraft in Connecticut.

    Last March the Pentagon began studying why the program had nearly doubled in cost after Pentagon acquisition chief John Young reported that total costs has grown from $6.8 billion to $11.2 billion since the contract was let in 2005.

    Young said the Navy and Lockheed Martin shared responsibility for the burgeoning cost.

    “The Navy and industry team did not clearly realize the full implications of the White House requirements,” Young said in a statement at the time.

    The program recently drew the ire of Arizona Sen. John McCain after the Navy reported to Congress on January 29 that after nine months of figuring it still hadn’t figured out a way to cut the price tag. McCain complained the fleet cost as much as Air Force One, a giant Boeing 747 airliner.

    The cost overrun report triggered a “Nunn-McCurdy violation,” which requires the Pentagon to notify Congress that spending on the project was out of control. The Nunn-McCurdy clause is part of an amendment to the 1982 Defense Authorization Act that eventually became permanent law.

    A violation occurs when total costs increase by more than 25 percent over original estimates. The price for violating the law is its immediate termination unless it is re-certified as a national security requirement by the Secretary of Defense, according to the exceptions written in the law.

    The European designed and built AgustaWestland AW-101 multi-mission helicopter being reconfigured by Lockheed Martin has been in operational service since 1999.

    Lockheed Martin renamed the three-engine Italian design the “US101” during competition with other American aircraft manufacturers bidding for the lucrative contract. The U.S. Navy designated its newest helicopter the “VH-71” after fly offs with Sikorsky Aircraft, the manufacturer of the current 25 aircraft fleet.

    Seven VH-71 Marine One clones already built are in various stages of testing in the United States and Tuesday an eighth helicopter made its maiden flight at AgustaWestland's facility in England, Scully told Newsmax.

    In May, 2005 the Republican-dominated House of Representatives approved legislation to again preserve the U.S. industrial base by requiring the U.S. Department of Defense to make more than 50 percent of their purchases from companies operating in the United States.

    The amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization Act was authored by Rep. Don Manzullo, R-Ill., when he chaired the House Small Business Committee Chairman. His amendment was stripped from the final defense appropriations act, according to Rich Carter, spokesperson for Rep. Manzullo.

    The entire airframe, including the transmission for the VH-71, is built in Europe. The General Electric engine is built is the U.S., Scully said.

    Opponents of the program said the plush, electronically enhanced VH-71 is flying in the face of an eighty-year old law called the “Buy American Act.” That obscure law was passed in the Great Depression to restore America’s industrial base.

    President Herbert Hoover signed the act into law in 1933 to ensure the United States government would use American made products whenever possible. The law has largely been circumvented by so-called “Memorandums of Understanding” to waive implementation of the law until now, Carter said.

    Sikorsky Aircraft supporters including Manzullo and Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., strongly criticized the inclusion of the British-Italian helicopter company AgustaWestland on the Lockheed team after losing the three-year competition for the contract. AgustaWestland is owned by Finmeccanica, Italy's second-largest industrial group. AgustaWestland will manufacture about a fifth of the new Marine One's components.

    Lockheed says that suppliers in 41 states support the VH-71 program.

  2. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Backwoods Sexy Staff Member

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    Maybe he will decide he does not want or need the new choppers that were ordered before he was ever elected president.

    I think he and McCain had a humorous exchange over this issue.
  3. Cajuncowboy

    Cajuncowboy Preacher From The Black Lagoon

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    Was this decision made before Screwy took office or was this on Bush's watch?

    Either way, it's moronic.

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    As I recall, the decision to build a new helicopter was after 9/11. The order was placed over 6 years ago. The old fleet of "Marine One" Helos were fairly old, with many seeing over 30 years of service.
  5. ZeroClub

    ZeroClub just trying to get better

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    The first sentence of this article suggests that Obama is a hypocrit, even though the 'copter decision wasn't Obama's to make.

    Newsmax is vertical (beyond slanted).
  6. Jarv

    Jarv Loud pipes saves lives.

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    He could always take a taxi to Andrews AFB...
  7. Dallas

    Dallas Old bulletproof tiger

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    A green taxi?

    "For God's sake Mr. President, I gotta petal 11 miles. Hurry up already. Yes, the meter is running." ~ Special Agent Scott Fontenaugh


    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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  9. iceberg

    iceberg nothing is nothing Zone Supporter

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    but for people who don't like obama, it's a nice little bullet.

    the truth isn't always necessary, is it? i'll agree, the article is crap when it comes to how it's trying to portray obama. it takes yesterday when this didn't really matter and the decision was made to all of todays key talking points to paint it's own little picture.

    it sucks. i hate it when people do this.

    some bullets i see are lies and i just refuse to pick them up regardless of how i feel about the person they are talking about.
  10. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    Marine One needs to be replaced that is pretty much agreed on by everyone.
    BUT after that it becomes a typical big government goat rope with everyone involved and that is never good. The contract should have gone to an american firm with the stipulation that 60% of it come from american firms.
  11. SuspectCorner

    SuspectCorner Bromo

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    Let's examine your question and then decide what, or whom, is moronic.

    If "Screwy" is supposed to be Obama - and the decision was made before he "took office", wouldn't that make the timeframe in question the Bush regime... err... adminstration?

    And the "or" you offer us is "on Bush's watch"...?

    Since "before Screwy took office" and "on Bush's watch" would be the same time frame... where's the choice here?

    Unless we are to consider the Clinton administration as the period "before Screwy took office"...

    Oh, snap - now it all makes sense. :D
  12. iceberg

    iceberg nothing is nothing Zone Supporter

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    what doesn't make sense is you choose to miss the part where cajun says "either way it doesn't make sense"

    whether bush or obama did it, it doesn't make sense.

    yet you only hear some non-existant obama whine.
  13. dcdallaschick

    dcdallaschick Member

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    Am I the only one who read "Presidential Choppers" and thought imported dentures--and still do, every time I see this thread?
  14. ConcordCowboy

    ConcordCowboy Mr. Buckeye

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    Obama has come out and said Nationally that he thought the Helicopter he had was just fine.

    He didn't see the need for new ones but that that decision was made years ago.

    You know if you dislike Obama fine but to try to blame him for this is frickin stupid.
  15. iceberg

    iceberg nothing is nothing Zone Supporter

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    agreed. this has nothing to do with obama from what i've seen so far.
  16. JBond

    JBond Well-Known Member

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    I did not post this topic as an anti Obama thread (I know it can be hard to tell with me). I was more concerned with the outsourcing of critical military equipment.

    Can't we build anything here? A made in the EU or China sticker on American military equipment bothers me for a number of reasons.
  17. WarC

    WarC Active Member

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    There are MANY pieces of equipment in the US military arsenal which are designed by or built in the US under contract from European weapons makers.

    The main cannon in the M1A1 is a Rheinmetall 120mm smoothbore cannon built by the Germans, the same cannon used on their own MBT.

    The armor on the M1A1 and M1A2 is the "chobham" composite type, named for the UK firm that pioneered it. The same composite armor used on their own Challenger MBTs.

    And while our main assault rifle is the M16A2, many many units of every branch of the armed service utilizes Heckler and Koch, German submachine guns and rifles.

    While the .45 1911 handgun is preferred, the stock 9mm service pistol of most branches is an Italian Beretta.

    The point is, while the US Military would prefer to use US-made equipment, they will go for utility over patriotism. This is a long pattern going back to the creation of the armed forces in this country.
  18. WarC

    WarC Active Member

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    This goes both ways. Many nations around the world purchase versions of our M1 battle tanks without the chobham type armor, in so-called "export models"......We do the same with our helicopters and assault rifles and outdated or surplus equipment.

    The Lebanese army is chock full of old US M60 Patton battle tanks and M111 personnel carriers. The Saudis use our M1 tanks in the export model, the Israelis buy up or are given our surplus fighter planes....

    The weapons trade is huge in this country.
  19. JBond

    JBond Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for adding that. I understand some things must be outsourced. We live in a global economy, but it still bothers me that America can't lead the way in some of these areas. There were American alternatives to the new EU helicopters.

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    I thought they were talking about Motor Scooters with Ape Hangers on them.


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