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Home Press Room CFIF to Defense Secretary Gates: Promote American National Interest, Not Brazil’s
CFIF to Defense Secretary Gates: Promote American National Interest, Not Brazil’s Print
Friday, March 25 2011

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the Center for Individual Freedom (“CFIF”) today raised concerns regarding the competition for the Department of Defense’s (“DoD”) request for 15 new aircraft to perform light attack and armed reconnaissance (LAAR).  Two companies currently compete for that contract: Hawker Beechcraft out of Wichita, Kansas, and the Brazilian-held company, Embraer.

Specifically, CFIF questioned the aptness of Embraer’s consideration for a contract to produce sensitive American defense equipment due to the fact that it is subsidized and effectively controlled by a foreign government that is often hostile to U.S. interests.  Furthermore, CFIF noted that, with America’s national debt exceeding a record $14 trillion and the U.S. economy struggling to recover, DoD would be remiss not to consider the contract’s impact on American jobs and cost to U.S. taxpayers. 

Read the letter below. 


 

 March 25, 2011

The Honorable Robert M. Gates
Office of the Secretary of Defense
United States Department of Defense
Washington, DC 20301-1000

VIA FACSIMILE AND UNITED STATES MAIL

Dear Secretary Gates:

On behalf of the Center for Individual Freedom (“CFIF”) and more than 300,000 supporters and activists across the nation, I write to raise concerns regarding the competition for the Department of Defense’s request for 15 new aircraft to perform light attack and armed reconnaissance roles (LAAR). Two companies currently compete for that contract: Hawker Beechcraft out of Wichita, Kansas, and the Brazilian-held company, Embraer.
 
As part of our mission, we at CFIF remain dedicated to protecting American national security, as well as the economic vitality of the nation. Consequently, the proposition of awarding a contract to produce sensitive American defense equipment to a company subsidized and effectively controlled by a foreign government that is sometimes hostile U.S. interests is a frightening one. We therefore, in this instance, consider it essential to the welfare of American citizens and the security of our country that the LAAR contract be awarded to a domestic company. 

The extent to which the Brazilian government could exercise its control over Embraer and its operations is in and of itself alarming.  The Embraer bylaws contain a little-known clause known as the “Golden Share.” That Golden Share clause provides the Brazilian government with veto rights over “interruption of the supply of maintenance and replacement parts for military aircraft.” In other words, if this contract is awarded to Embraer, at any time during the production and maintenance of the aircraft, the Brazilian government could shut down the operation, leaving the United States with no recourse on the matter. 

That power, coupled with Brazil’s often hostile stance toward the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States, must weigh heavily on your Department’s final determination regarding which company ultimately is awarded the contract.  Brazil has publicly opposed American efforts in the War on Terror, against Iranian menace and against Venezuelan terrorist support, but now seeks to profit from it.  In 2003, for instance, former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva slurred American efforts in Iraq as illegitimate. The current president, Dilma Vana Rousseff, is herself a former revolutionary activist. 

Finally, with the nation’s national debt exceeding a record $14 trillion and the U.S. economy struggling to recover, the Department would be remiss not to consider the contract’s impact on American jobs and cost to U.S. taxpayers.  A contract with Hawker Beechcraft would sustain 1,400 American jobs, whereas an Embraer contract would only create an estimated 50 assembly positions.  Moreover, the American-made Hawker Beechcraft AT-6 is based upon an aircraft already in wide use by the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members and other allies.  That existing familiarity and logistical infrastructure advantages therefore allow for considerable cost savings over the new aircraft’s life cycle, which is particularly critical at a time of necessary cost reductions that you lead. 

Accordingly, we at CFIF respectfully urge you to thoroughly consider the issues we have raised regarding the award of the LAAR contract. American jobs, and ultimately American security, are at stake.  Thank you very much for your attention to this important matter. 

Sincerely,

Jeffrey Mazzella, President  
Timothy Lee, Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs 

 

cc:  The Honorable Ashton Carter, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics 
The Honorable Michael Donley, Secretary of the Air Force 
Senator Daniel Inouye, Chairman, Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee 
Senator Thad Cochran, Ranking Member, Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee
Representative Bill Young, Chairman, House of Representatives Defense Appropriations Subcommittee 
Representative Norm Dicks, Ranking Member, House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican Leader, United States Senate
Senator Pat Roberts
Senator Jerry Moran
Representative Tim Huelskamp 
Representative Lynn Jenkins
Representative Kevin Yoder
Representative Mike Pompeo
House Appropriations Committee
Senate and House Defense Appropriations Subcommittees
Senator Patrick Leahy
Senator Tom Harkin
Senator Richard Durbin
Senator Dianne Feinstein
Senator Barbara Mikulski
Senator Herb Kohl
Senator Patty Murray
Senator Sherrod Brown
Senator Richard Shelby
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
Representative Jerry Lewis
Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen
Representative Jack Kingston
Representative Kay Granger
Representative Ander Crenshaw
Representative Ken Calvert
Representative Jo Bonner
Representative Tom Cole
Representative Pete Visclosky
Representative Jim Moran
Representative Marcy Kaptur
Representative Steve Rothman
Representative Maurice Hinchey
 

 

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