The U.S. Air Force is in the market for an aircraft that can be used for light attack and armed reconnaissance (LAAR) missions. It also will be used to provide training to foreign military allies so they can provide their own defense. Very soon the Department of Defense will decide whether to award the contract to Hawker-Beechcraft, an American company with a manufacturing plant in Wichita, Kansas, or to Embraer, a Brazilian company, which has rented a hangar in Florida. The two competing models of airplane are Hawker-Beechcraft’s AT-6 and Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano. This video compares their respective facilities:
Summary of the video: If DoD awards Hawker-Beechcraft the contract, it will create or sustain 1,400 jobs in the U.S. at a company that has an established manufacturing plant and will create orders for suppliers in 18 states. If Embraer wins the contract, it will employ 50 people in the U.S. who will assemble their aircraft in a rented hangar, which, call me crazy, is a proposal that has “we’re just not that into you” written all over it.
Whenever I think of all the manufacturing jobs being driven out of the U.S. by taxes, regulations and “watermelon” environmentalism (green on the outside, socialist red on the inside — i.e., environmentalism as a mask for ways to destroy free enterprise, aka capitalism), I think of the scene at the beginning of “Gone with the Wind” at the picnic after everyone learns the
Yankees South Carolinians have fired on Fort Sumter and war is imminent. Rhett Butler watches the men boast of how quickly they will defeat the Yankees and when one notes that Butler has visited the North and asks his opinion, Butler replies as follows (boldfacing mine):
RHETT BUTLER : I think it’s hard winning a war with words, gentlemen.
CHARLES: What do you mean, sir?
RHETT: I mean, Mr. Hamilton, there’s not a cannon factory in the whole South.
MAN: What difference does that make, sir, to a gentleman?
RHETT: I’m afraid it’s going to make a great deal of difference to a great many gentlemen, sir.
CHARLES: Are you hinting, Mr. Butler, that the Yankees can lick us?
RHETT: No, I’m not hinting. I’m saying very plainly that the Yankees are better equipped than we. They’ve got factories, shipyards, coal mines … and a fleet to bottle up our harbors and starve us to death. All we’ve got is cotton, and slaves and … arrogance.
If ever there were an industry in which we MUST buy American, it has to be the defense industry. Each nation looks after its own self-interest. Putting American defense in the hands of another nation at the very least gives it enormous leverage in bargaining with the U.S. for anything it wants and at the worst gives it the power to refuse to deliver when it doesn’t get its way. Embraer is not only subsidized by the Brazilian government, the Brazilian government owns 40 percent of it and has the following powers over Embraer’s policies according to a May 2011 report from the Hudson Institute (boldfacing mine):
- Creation and/or alteration of military programs, whether or not involving the Federative Republic of Brazil
- Development of third parties´ skills in technology for military programs
- Interruption of the supply of maintenance and replacement parts for military aircraft
- Transfer of the equity control of the company.
What else could go wrong? Also according to the Hudson Institute report, Brazil has considerable anti-American sentiment and its major exports compete directly with American exports. The ability to cut off the supply of parts and maintenance for an American military aircraft would give Brazil considerable leverage in future trade agreements.
Then there’s the detail that Embraer’s Super Tucano cannot be piloted by approximately 18 percent of military males and 81 percent of military females because it is built to standards that do not allow them to eject safely. However, the Hawker Beechcraft AT-6 would allow for warfighters with weights as low as 103 pounds and as high as 245 pounds to fly the aircraft safely — which amounts to approximately 95% of the combined male and female potential pilot population. See Jenn Q. Public for the stories of four female Afghan pilots who would be grounded due to their size if the Super Tucano were chosen over the Hawker Beechcraft AT-6.