I don’t see how the US government can justify spending up to $100 billion taxpayer dollars ($40 billion procurement, and estimated $60 billion in support/maintenance) for a french product, when the US is perched on the edge of a recession. Furthermore, I don’t see the logic in having anyone other than a US company in charge of spare parts and services for something as strategic as an air tanker.
Airbus has offered to build a new plant in Mobile Alabama, which takes some of the sting out of the announcement, but US labor unions and policy makers should not get too excited yet about this. Even if the plant is built, it will build the 167 tankers over ten years or so and then what….rust away as employees that have relocated to Mobile go jobless? Mobile is a beautiful place with fine people, but its isolated small-town economy can’t easily handle the expansion and contraction that would come from a one-time manufacturing run of this magnitude.
Airbus may suggest that the plant will then be used to manufacture commercial plans, but this will never pass muster with european labor unions, which are among the strongest in the world. France is much more socialist than the United States, and the placement of Airbus manufacturing jobs in Mobile Alabama will generate significants complaints in their population long-term.
I think our US government has just handed Airbus a major leg-up in their competition with US airplane makers.
Sometimes I feel like we US taxpayers are already paying for the military defense of the entire world…. This latest decision now ensures that the French, not the US, get any resultant technological advantages from it.
Here is the story Be sure to read the “sound off” comments by readers at the end
P.S. I mentioned John McCain in the title because he scuttled Boeing’s tanker contract in 2001 after raising concerns about the bidding process. While I understood his concerns, and watched in bewilderment as a former Boeing and former Air force procurement officer went to prison for improper dealings, the time for punishing the other 250,000 hard-working Boeing employees is long over. Furthermore, this decision punishes US taxpayers by giving tens of billions to France as the US enters a recession. Yet even today, new sources are reporting that this deal validates McCain’s position.