Just when you might think the "split buy" idea for KC-X is dead and buried, it seems to be back today.
A self-described non-partisan coalition called American Jobs Now! has launched a well-funded push on Capitol Hill called "Build Them Both". This is not a fly-by-night lobby group. Carrie Giddens, formerly communications director for the Iowa Democratic Party during the 2008 presidential election, is the newly-hired organizer. The group also published full-page advertisements in Politico (which published today) and tomorrow in The Hill newspaper. The ad says a split buy "will speed the delivery", "retire an outdated fleet" and "will save taxpayers" money. Above all, the split buy will create "100,000 new US jobs".
Let's put our questions about those facts aside, just for the moment. (Not to get nit-picky, but surely a single project to build, at most, 25-30 aircraft a year will not consume one-seventh of the US aerospace workforce. Besides - wink, wink - those 100,000 aerospace workers are already busy building the last 40 F-22s.)
The big question, of course, is which side is this group on? The web site is no help. It shows images of both the KC-767 and KC-45. The site's domain is registered to Domains by Proxy, an anonymous service.
According to Giddens, the answer is neither. She told me today the group has reached out to Northrop, Boeing and their suppliers for support and funding, but have not yet received any. They group chose to focus on the tanker contract, she says, because it's the quickest way to create jobs in the US economy. "The goal really is jobs," she says. "Let's end the decade-long political spat."
That raises the question: Which lawmakers are on their team? The most outspoken advocate for a split buy is dead. But even the late Representative John Murtha appeared to have given up on the idea last year. At the moment, no lawmaker is actively supporting the group's efforts, Giddens says.
So it's apparently a well-funded group with no political or industrial champions, launching a well-timed lobbying push with purely economic motivations? If you believe that, I've got 100 KC-767As to lease you.