As regular readers know, a major piece of controversy over the prospect of awarding the KC-X contract to EADS North America is the assertion that this will outsource US defense procurement to a foreign company.
We’ve noted in this space many times before that this issue, in this context, is a red herring, because the Defense Department has been doing so for years and is increasingly doing so–without the hue and cry that accompanies the prospect of EADS getting this contract.
A recent article by George Talbot of The Mobile Press-Register illustrates the outsourcing to foreign companies. While Talbot talks about EADS, because Mobile (AL) (which is, one may be reminded, part of the United States–the Confederacy did lose the Civil War) is where EADS plans to build the tanker, it is also the location of an Australian company called Austal that is poised to receive a contract to build the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).
Talbot’s article illustrates many parallels between EADS and Austal, except for one–there doesn’t seem to be any objection to awarding the contract to Austal by the so-called Buy American crowd.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg. In an article we did for the January issue of National Defense magazine, we point out more of the iceberg and the DOD’s outsourcing to foreign sources–not all of which are necessarily considered friendly to US interests, such as the EADS/Airbus NATO allies, Germany, the UK, Spain and France (though we freely acknowledge France’s mercurial nature as an ally). China and Russia are key suppliers of materials. China produces 97% of the rare earth materials. Russia is a major supplier of titanium. The US doesn’t produce a single ounce of cobalt, a required material in jet engines–it all comes from foreign producers.
We’ve since learned that some of the computer security for DOD contractors comes from none other than Russia.
We agree that outsourcing Defense to foreign sources is a major concern. But it’s been going on for a long, long time.