UPDATED: EADS on Air Force One: no thanks

It’s a rough day to be an aerospace reporter. The juiciest story of the decade has been lost. EADS confirms that it will not compete for the Air Force One replacement contract. Read Flight’s news story. Here is the statement from EADS North America:


“In 2007 at the USAF’s request, EADS North America providedtechnical information and answered questions regarding several of our widebodycommercial aircraft as the service conducted its Analysis of Alternatives (AoA)to recapitalize the current fleet of presidential aircraft.

“EADS North America’s strategy for growth in the US is based on bringing value to the US warfighter; making industrial investments inthe USand insourcing high technology defense and aerospace jobs. After carefulreview, we’ve determined that participation in the AF-1 program will not helpus meet these business objectives.”

“Though the company will not respond to this RFI, we remainfocused on once again winning the KC-X competition with Northrop Grumman,delivering the UH-72A LUH to the US Army and meeting the needs of our USdefense and homeland security customers.

“We reiterate our strong commitment to the US Department ofDefense and to supporting the warfighter with our products and services.”


UPDATE: Even if politics played no role in the EADS decision, it certainly would have been a factor if they had chosen to compete. On Monday, in fact, US Sen Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican, issued a foreboding press release.


“Much like our refueling tankers, Air Force One should be made inAmerica on existing lines by the experts that already know how to dothe job right. Air Force One is no place for a government-backedforeign company to learn on the job. There is no need to build newplants or outsource this vital work all over the world. We need to doeverything we can to create jobs at home and keep the jobs we have andthis is another way we can keep that promise.”

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15 Responses to UPDATED: EADS on Air Force One: no thanks

  1. RobH 28 January, 2009 at 2:21 pm #

    Please… Remember EADS played coy with KC-X, too.

  2. Paul 28 January, 2009 at 2:32 pm #

    I think EADS is refusing to be in the competition just for show and to get Boeing to lower their price. The final loser here is the US tax payer.

  3. Moxie 28 January, 2009 at 3:14 pm #

    Paul- If EADS isn’t in the competition, there is nothing to make Boeing lower its price. The only way they can really make Boeing lower its price is to be in the competition.

    I’m wondering if they are refusing to bid on this to put more pressure on USAF to select them in KC-X. If USAF doesn’t give something to EADS, they will stop bidding on other programs, which will remove the pressure that competition is putting on Boeing. EADS knows that USAF needs them for this purpose. I don’t think that this is a strong enough action to affect the outcome of KC-X, but who knows?

  4. Richard Price 28 January, 2009 at 3:28 pm #

    “Much like our refueling tankers, Air Force One should be made in America on existing lines by the experts that already know how to do the job right. Air Force One is no place for a government-backed foreign company to learn on the job. There is no need to build new plants or outsource this vital work all over the world. We need to do everything we can to create jobs at home and keep the jobs we have and this is another way we can keep that promise.”

    I guess that limits what Boeing aircraft are on offer considerably…

  5. Stephen Trimble 28 January, 2009 at 3:32 pm #

    Hah. That’s a really good point.

  6. Royce 28 January, 2009 at 4:17 pm #

    At a time when the recession is taking out jobs, the Congress is not going to approve a purchase of an Airbus presidential aircraft. The Euros practice the same kind of protectionism regarding Airbus-led programs. This is the way the world works, but only the U.S. government is supposed to be immune from concerns over its industrial base.

  7. Capricorn 28 January, 2009 at 4:29 pm #

    US politicians are still very much narrow minded and as such, think that the USA is the belly button of the world. For decades, Europeans have been forced US (military) products through their throats and it is only fair to say that thanks to the French and the Germans (Ariane, Airbus…) there’s now some kind of European counterweight. I for one do not care in which plane a US president flies, as long as I don’t have to pay my (tax payer’s) part in it. So, if it’s a Boeing plane, it’ll only be the US tax payer who can sourly smile whenever he/she sees precious Mr. president go up or down the stairs, albeit of a somewhat outdated product…
    As to the tanker deal: does anyone really believe it’ll be an Airbus? Get real – with this administration, protectionism will be practised more than ever before!
    I surely hope the European leaders will keep that in mind whenever they’ll have to decide on military purchases…

  8. Uwe 28 January, 2009 at 7:50 pm #

    Well, Mr. Royce,
    Imho one can not start a competition and
    than crown the guy in the homecolors
    anyway independent of outcome.

    Everything else would be fraudulent.

    uwe

    PS: did you notice that Rumsfeld did not
    sing with the crowd during the freedom fries
    bruhaha that mandated “BY US” ?

  9. EG 28 January, 2009 at 8:35 pm #

    Capricorn,
    My intent is not to start a contest with you, but until only in the last 30 years or so did Europe have a manufacturing base capable of producing the unit numbers to drive down costs combined with a reasonably unified procurement policy.

    European countries bought American products because our unit costs were lower, and sometimes our technology was better and we offered offsets. Look at the number of cancelled projects in Germany and England alone. Look at how many projects France dropped out of because they could not force the design where they wanted it to go.

    When you consider when the F-16′s were bought you will see we’re within that window.

    I hope this sounds even and balanced because your letter did not.

  10. Prometheus 29 January, 2009 at 7:56 am #

    AF one aside.
    I still think if EADS bulits a factory in the USA, it will be good thing.
    Look they have to pay tax anyway, just as boeing has to buy tax in japan for there factories there.
    However wins the KC-X has a good chance of winning the competion for the E-10 MC2A aka the replacement for al those 707 variantes.
    Also the A400M looks ideal for all the FCS-things.
    Maybe EADS should rethink and plane a Factory in a battleground state?
    Would help EADS, the US Armed forces & The US taxpayer.

  11. Capricorn 29 January, 2009 at 9:03 am #

    Did I hit a nerve, EG?
    One can wonder wether cancellation of European products was because of the reasons you mention, or because of US pressure, e.g. the Canadian AVRO fighter project…
    Now, being a chauvinist myself, I don’t oppose chauvinistic behaviour as such, I just would like everybody to be open about it.
    Still, one more about US technology 30 or more years back: thanks to the German WWII input, the US as well as the SU managed to get their projects going. The US only did a better job (they managed to ‘import’ the top German scientists). And the unit costs were so low, because of the huge ‘US friendly’ customer base, as well as (in many cases) because of the pretty standard technology.

  12. Mike 29 January, 2009 at 11:35 am #

    “For decades, Europeans have been forced US (military) products through their throats…”

    Forced? FORCED? What a joke.

    The reason US aerospace products sold well around the world is that because in the post WWII world, virtually all the technological infrastructure of Europe and Asia had been destroyed.

    Personally, I find myself wishing the US had simply let the Soviet Union overrun Europe. I think spending a few decades living with the communist boot on your neck would have taught the Europeans some much needed humility and appreciation for American sacrifice in keeping you free.

  13. EG 29 January, 2009 at 2:32 pm #

    Hello Capricorn,
    No nerve hit, I was intrigued by your comment taxpayer’s comments.

    As far as the ‘bus tanker, my problem is not with the aircraft but the way my government (USAF) handled the contract.

    I am well aware of projects that were cancelled mentioning of the Avro Arrow was probably not the best example due to pressure within the Canadian caused by the 1957 white paper by Duncan-Sandys. The USAF actually considered buying the aircraft.
    Citing the TSR-2 versus the F-111 would have been a better example.

    I also know about operation paperclip also, I would suggest you look at the Miles M52 and at other British postwar developments in turbine engines, aerodynamics etc. They were ahead of the US postwar in theory but lacked the manufacturing base. I am afraid even the German engineers that went to England were unable to overcome the British government and their cutbacks.

    The European governments were also complicit when they accepted 2nd hand aircraft from us rather then developing their own. How long did Germany fly the F-86 or even the F-84? How long did France and Denmark fly the F-100?

    I will repeat my previous assertion which was not chauvinistic, but an observation only in the last 30 years or so did Europe have a manufacturing base capable of producing the unit numbers to drive down costs combined with a reasonably unified procurement policy. European procurement stands a better chance now because higher unit costs have driven the number of aircraft procured down to a level where the factories can produce the number of needed aircraft. Congratulations, you have now achieved the level of Sweden!

    Oh and don’t forget the number of top German scientists in other countries such as Russia and France. If you would like to have some fun, go look up who the designer of the Atar engine was.

  14. Royce 29 January, 2009 at 3:51 pm #

    “PS: did you notice that Rumsfeld did not
    sing with the crowd during the freedom fries
    bruhaha that mandated “BY US” ?”

    I don’t know what this has to do with anything I wrote. Bizarre.

  15. Billy 4 December, 2010 at 8:41 am #

    It’s very easy to do and quite often takes just a click of a button.

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