New power lobby emerges for KC-X split buy

buildthemboth screen.jpgSource: http://www.buildthemboth.ccm

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 The ad says a split buy “will speed the delivery”, “retire an outdated fleet” and “will save taxpayers” money.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. 

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12 Responses to New power lobby emerges for KC-X split buy

  1. Robert 23 February, 2010 at 2:21 pm #

    From “adding jobs” perspective, that’s not a bad idea.

    The problem is that capacity wide, MRTT/A330-vs-KC767 isn’t as drastically different as KC10-vs-KC135 to justify a high-low mix.

  2. John S 23 February, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

    How much longer do we have to delay the award of the KC-X before we may as well combine it with the KC-Y and KC-Z and do the split buy anyway?

  3. Bryan C 23 February, 2010 at 9:59 pm #

    I love the smell of astroturf in the morning …

    This is an Alabama/Northrop hail Mary, pure and simple.

  4. Robert 23 February, 2010 at 10:27 pm #

    KC767′s sole advantage is Boeing’s namesake and that 767 was DESIGNED in the US 3 decades ago.

    It is a pitty that KCX can’t progress beyond petty politics. May whichever platform that truly has merit wins.

  5. Royce 24 February, 2010 at 1:19 pm #

    So a group of unidentified, well-financed people just woke up one day and started a group to push for a split buy in tankers? That’s highly believable.

  6. JWD Fransen 24 February, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    History of this tanker competition has shown once again that it is politically impossible in the US to select a candidate based on an aircraft of non-US origin. Even if the alternative is also to a significant extent of non-European origin.

    So in this competition there really exist only two alternative scenarios : either Boeing only will be selected (i.e. bad news for for Northrop Grumman and its US suppliers), or both entries will be purchased.

    This political reality in the US unfortunately is not something that will go away. Perhaps the European nations should draw their conclusions at last and in turn not buy any more US aircraft wherever this can be avoided ? No more C-17′s but A400M, no JSF but Eurofighter and Gripen or Rafale, and so on.

  7. Robert 24 February, 2010 at 3:33 pm #

    The ad itself is interesting: Using pictures of various folks to suggest ‘the people’; using an arbitrarily large number ’100,000′ to suggest the potential job creation during a time of high unemployment rate; using practically no other color in the ad besides ‘red, white & blue’ to evoke some [twisted] sense of patriotism. Market psychology.

  8. Royce 24 February, 2010 at 4:29 pm #

    “Perhaps the European nations should draw their conclusions at last and in turn not buy any more US aircraft wherever this can be avoided?”

    Europe is already trying to build it’s own transport. It built it’s own fighters (three different models). The U.S., meanwhile, has bought Alenia’s C-27J, the EADS/CASA CN-235, helicopters from Eurocopter, a Swiss-made turboprop trainer, a presidential helicopter from Italy, PC-12s for special ops. Further, when the USAF goes to replace its jet trainers, it will probably buy a model from Korea or Italy.

    This idea that the U.S. refuses to buy European aircraft is just total, total B.S.

  9. Jetcal1 24 February, 2010 at 10:33 pm #

    “Perhaps the European nations should draw their conclusions at last and in turn not buy any more US aircraft wherever this can be avoided?”
    Wasn’t the A400M engine choice political?

    Back in the day, the U.S. had the designers, the infrastructure and bought in quantities that made the prices for American aircraft appealing to FMS customers. Now the numbers have changed and there is almost some parity.

    Why am I expected to buy non-U.S. products? Why is it acceptable for Europeans to treat their defense industry as a jobs program but get upset if America does the same?

  10. Herkeng130 24 February, 2010 at 11:39 pm #

    The A400M is a jobs platform… We have seen how that is playing out. I work for the “other” compnay and I do not agree with a split buy. It will not provide the USAF with what they need. One tanker. Then move onto the KC-Y and KC-Z

  11. diesel generators 17 June, 2010 at 7:48 am #


  12. Madalene Buckalew 23 July, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

    With the unemployment rate still at 9.3% for May I feel definitly anxious. Also my beloved California is over 12. I’m not so sure Obama can turn this around soon enough to help our citizens.

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