Hawker Beechcraft today issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union Address.
“The actions of the current administration do not align with the comments made by President Obama in his State of the Union address. He made very convincing statements that he wants to protect American manufacturing jobs and called for more highly skilled jobs in the U.S. and for more products to be made in America.
“If this is true, then the actions of the U.S. Air Force are in direct conflict with those objectives. The Air Force recently excluded the Hawker Beechcraft AT-6 from a competition for a Light Air Support (LAS) aircraft. This decision is counter to the President’s address in several ways:
- The AT-6 is the best airplane for the LAS mission and it is made in America.
- Awarding this contract to a foreign company jeopardizes 800 jobs in Kansas and Arkansas and more than 600 jobs in 38 other states.
- The U.S airplane is estimated to be about 25 percent less expensive to acquire and dramatically more cost effective to maintain.
“The decision by the Air Force to send defense dollars overseas for the LAS program should receive an impartial review before the Air Force purchases an inferior airplane and sends U.S. tax dollars and U.S. jobs overseas and places our national security in the hands of a foreign country.
“The President also spoke of rewarding innovation and hard work, as well as maintaining a strong manufacturing base and military infrastructure. Yet the administration’s decision to outsource this contract to a foreign company defeats those goals.
- The U.S. Air Force says it will refuse to purchase an airplane that is still being developed. Our nation’s superiority in the air and on the ground was built on investments in developmental technologies like drone aircraft and smart bombs. Hampering that development will be detrimental to our continued military dominance.
- Outsourcing the manufacture of our defense equipment and technology weakens our long-term national security. Awarding this contract to a non-U.S. company could idle one of the last manufacturing facilities capable of building a propeller-driven U.S. military aircraft.
“Eliminating jobs and capabilities in the U.S. industrial and military base is not consistent with the priorities that the President presented in his address or the strategy recently unveiled by the Department of Defense. The LAS contract and others like it are essential to maintaining our country’s leadership in aerospace engineering and innovation, and keeping national security manufacturing in the United States is critical to maintaining our military manufacturing infrastructure.
“We hope that the aspirations the President set forth in the State of the Union guide future defense decisions and lead us to the answers we have been seeking on this one.
“Concerned Americans, members of the flying military, and anyone else dedicated to the success of U.S. manufacturing, preservation of the aerospace industrial base and U.S. tactical air power should take action to ensure the AT-6 gets proper consideration for this Air Force contract. Visit the AT-6 website at www.missionreadyat-6.com to send a letter to congressional leaders.”
The AT-6 is a world-class, light attack aircraft that has been evaluated and proven capable through a multi-year, Congressionally-funded program led by the Air National Guard. The benefits of the AT-6 far outweigh that of the competition’s offering, including the following important factors:
- The AT-6 is designed and manufactured in the U.S. to be used by the U.S and its allies.
- Keeping this contract in the U.S. will help preserve 1,400 domestic jobs at 181 companies in 39 states.
- The AT-6 draws its heritage from the airframe of the number-one training aircraft in the world, the Beechcraft T-6. The company has built more than 725 T-6 aircraft, which are used to train every fixed-wing military pilot in the United States and are successfully operated by six allied air forces around the world. The graduation to the AT-6 light attack airplane would be a natural progression.
- The AT-6 is the sum of the Air Force’s proven T-6, A-10C mission system and MC-12W sensor suite, which offers the Department of Defense logistics and cost efficiencies that no other aircraft in the competition can match.
- The weapons and avionics systems included on the AT-6 are familiar to NATO allies and have been proven effective on many continents and in other NATO aircraft.
Hawker Beechcraft is a world-leading manufacturer of business, special mission, light attack and trainer aircraft – designing, marketing and supporting aviation products and services for businesses, governments and individuals worldwide. The company’s headquarters and major facilities are located in Wichita, Kan., with operations in Salina, Kan.; Little Rock, Ark.; Chester, England, U.K.; and Chihuahua, Mexico. The company leads the industry with a global network of more than 100 factory-owned and authorized service centers. For more information, visit www.hawkerbeechcraft.com.