While We Have Your Attention: Lawmakers took the opportunity during the July 22 Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing for the Air Force's two prospective senior leaders to air their views on the KC-X tanker battle. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), whose state the Northrop Grumman/EADS team has elected as an assembly site for its tanker, reminded Michael Donley and Gen. Norton Schwartz of the service's five-year tanker quagmire, urging both nominees to pursue a fair and speedy resolution. Donley acknowledged that DOD acquisition czar John Young, who has assumed the mantle of KC-X source selection authority, would "have all the support he needs and wants from the Air Force." Sessions also asked for assurance that the new tanker would be a flexible "game changer" that would swing from refueler to airlifter, a role for which the Northrop team contends its aircraft is well-suited. Schwartz replied, "Its primary mission will be air refueling, but we can no longer afford to have platforms that are sort of single-mission, point-mission focused." Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) maintained that USAF's original award of the KC-X contract to Northrop was at odds with Title 10 considerations that require DOD to consider the impact of every major program award on the
industrial base. Donley said he must "defer to the acquisition experts on the issues of foreign content," but he added that "we live in a global economy in which most" US companies "have international connections." Clinton asked for a "specific answer" to her question in writing, noting that she is "very well aware that we live in an international economy, but I'm also extremely conscious of the impact of decisions ... that undermine our competitiveness for the long run and eliminate jobs and thereby undermine technical skill acquisition in a way that I think will come back to haunt us." US
My opening line… loosely translated… is French for “Hell freezes over” (“frozen Hell”), about which: note the highlighted bits above. It IS the proverbial “cold day” when I agree with Her Hillaryness about anything, but I agree with her on this. It’s not about the job losses, although that stings. It’s the erosion of our industrial base that worries me. We can outsource the production of underwear, Mattel toys, and even cars to the Chinese and others with little effect on our safety and well being, lead paint aside. But outsourcing your military procurement is a whole ‘nuther ball o’ wax. Aircraft production lines and the people that work on them just don’t materialize over night. Our aerospace industrial base is a complex system of people, processes, and physical plant… which must either be used or lost. You don’t keep production lines in “stand-by” mode; when the last aircraft rolls off the line that line (and sometimes the whole plant) is shut down and the people either move to another line or are released to seek other “opportunities.” “Opportunities,” such as they are, tend to be rather limited these days.
Additionally, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to grasp the fact that people who aren’t exactly “in tune” with the nation’s foreign policy just might threaten to withhold aircraft production, or spare parts, or support, or whatever… should significant disagreement between gub’mints over something like, say
, arise. Iraq
(h/t: AFA’s Daily Report)
Remember that recurring bitch (Or moan. Or groan.) I have about medals-and-ribbons creep in Today’s Modern Air Force? Well, Doc weighed in on my most recent rant on this subject last evening, and I wanna make sure everyone sees what he has to say:
Wasn't sure I'd find this still on the front page, but glad it is. Thought of it yesterday as I was walking down the hall in the admin bldg at the Academy yesterday. Pictures from yesteryear adorn the walls (ancient history being about the time my class came through). What suddenly struck me was the ribbon racks of the colonels in the photos with my classmates. One, two, or three rows, maybe. Seriously, one O-6 had about two--ribbons, not rows. An airman gets two ribbons for living through an induction physical these days. And these guys, I thought with amazement, probably flew in
and the Korea . People who think "ribbon inflation" doesn't exist need to see those photos. Nam
You may or may not know this, Gentle Reader, but when Doc says “the Academy,” he’s talking about the
in USAF Academy , where he was Deputy Inspector General until a week ago today. So his comment carries a lot of weight with me, even though it’s his personal opinion and not that of the Newnited States Air Force. It’s good to know I’m not just some addled ol’ geezer who rants and raves about stuff changing for the worse. Although it’s been brought to my attention I have tendencies in this space… ahem. Colorado Springs
Oh. And why is Doc no longer the Deputy IG at USAFA, you ask? He retired last Friday… after 27 years of service to the nation. Drop by his place and congratulate him, won’t you?
And finally… some Good Stuff. Three minutes and 26 seconds on what it means to be a Thunderbird, including some pretty cool aerials:
I’ve seen the PBS show referenced in the trailer and it’s very, VERY good. As are the Thunderbirds. But ya knew that, Gentle Reader.