By Gary Goldman
The Pentagon should protect national security by cutting ties with foreign contractors who seek contracts to provide key aircraft needed to support the U.S. military. Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine brings into focus the fact that the United States should always look inside first to defend itself. It is time for Americans to look to American companies to provide what we need for defense.
The world is rising to help the people of Ukraine arm themselves and provide humanitarian aid, but the default position for the people of a nation is to maintain its own strong defense. Americans need to learn a lesson from this crisis to make sure our military does not become reliant on other nations for military hardware. Being reliant on foreign-based companies comes at a cost that is unnecessary when we have numerous American defense companies ready to produce the best aircraft for the military.
Look at the situation in Europe and the dependence they have on Russian energy for example. Several European nations have a serious national security issue today because they rely on Russian energy sources. Modern life depends on having reliable and affordable energy – giving Putin control of the heat and lights leaves Europe vulnerable to a tyrant. According to ABC News, Europe “gets almost 40% of its gas from Russia” and “to prepare for any cutoffs as the war intensifies and to reduce Russian reliance, countries are rounding up new supplies of liquefied natural gas — LNG — by ship. They’re also speeding up plans for gas import terminals and pipelines that don’t depend on Russia and talking about allowing coal-fired power plants to keep spewing climate-changing emissions for longer if it means energy independence.” The reliance on Russian energy sources is causing some real problems for European consumers and governments bracing for a new energy crisis.
We may suffer an increase in energy prices here in the United States because of the Ukrainian conflict. While weaning ourselves off Russian oil and gas and returning to energy independence, we also should prevent dependence on foreign-made military hardware. Right now, Airbus, an aircraft manufacturing company based in the Netherlands with a headquarters in France, is angling for a big contract with the Pentagon to produce new refueling tankers for the Air Force.
In addition to the national security argument raised by being a European company, Airbus has other problems complicating contracts with the U.S. military. Airbus is currently in a major legal battle with the nation of Qatar, which alleges that Airbus aircraft have serious design defects that make the aircraft not flight worthy. Simple Flying reported on February 26, 2022, “it all began last year when an A350 was in Shannon, Ireland getting painted into a special livery for the 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup. Qatar Airways noticed cracks underneath the paint on top of the fuselage.” Qatar responded by grounding 13 of the planes then sued Airbus for $600 million. These design flaws should give Pentagon decision-makers pause before considering Airbus.
Another factor weighing against Airbus is that they have been accused of cheating on trade agreements. The U.S. Trade Representative put out a press release on October 2, 2019, about a $7.5 billion penalty levied on Airbus for illegal subsidies where they concluded, “The United States has won the largest arbitration award in World Trade Organization (WTO) history in its dispute with the European Union over illegal subsidies to Airbus.” They pointed out that “massive EU corporate welfare has cost American aerospace companies hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenue over the nearly 15 years of litigation.” Airbus was one of the European aerospace companies getting an upper hand against American companies thanks to unethical subsidies.
So besides the subsidies and apparently substandard products Airbus produces, the national security implications of becoming reliant on a European company for refueling tankers that our Air Force depends on to reach around the globe should be reason enough for Airbus to not get any more contracts from the Pentagon. Ultimately, a foreign-based aerospace company should not be granted U.S. taxpayer-funded contracts to refuel American military aircraft.