Will Parochial Interests Always Fly?

By Ed Timperlake

An American Labor Leader Swings and Misses

In response to a very shortsighted diatribe by Mr. Richard Michalski, general vice president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM&AW) in The Hill Congressional Blog — the law of unintended consequences might kick in and bite his rank and file members.

“Do not hand American job opportunities to Brazil” (http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/labor/155497-do-not-hand-american-job-opportunities-to-brazil)

Mr Michalski and the Hawker Beech AT-6 supporters are trying to influence a current source selection competition between the AT-6 and Super Tucano for anywhere from two to twenty Light Attack Aircraft for the Afghan Air Force.

The echo chamber supporting him in the comment section makes two astonishing statements:

They first is an attack on my Sldinfo.com article in which I had placed a picture of female fighter pilot in the Brazil AF.  A snide and simplistic erroneous discussion of the Super Tucano’s ejection seat was made—(EMB314: Which Gender Issue?)

“I guess the picture of the Brazilian supermodel pilot on your blog will have to attach 30-40 pounds of bricks or brazil nuts to her flight suit or be outside the safe ejection envelope”

As I pointed out “Picking a fight with Brazil over women is also not the way to go.”

The second point made in support of Mr Michalski essentially captures the overall line of support currently in play arguing for the U.S. to select the American AT-6 over the Super Tucano (to be assembled in Florida) for the Afghan Air Force.

“Plus it’s un-American…which isn’t too popular in the US these days…”

Consequently, Mr Michalski’s Union workers should not be surprised if Brazil considers the proposed sale of American F/A-18s to Brazil to then be called “un-Brazilian”. Talk about insulting a potential future customer!

The key point that Hawker Beech has been trying to continue fuzz up and spin away is that the USAF required a “non-developmental aircraft” to be submitted for evaluation. BUT the AT-6 can not go into Combat.

I will let General Schwartz speak to that point — he said it far more eloquently then me–

“Don’t blow smoke up my ass” about what a military platform can do and when it will be ready, Schwartz told a tense and silent ballroom filled with defense industry executives.

This is why I was glad to read an article in The Hill by retired Cdr Flatley USN a decorated Navy Fighter Pilot. He brilliantly sets the record straight with the facts in response to Mr Michalski’s arguments.

Making the selection of the AT-6 about American Jobs may have the unintended consequences of having caused lasting damage to US/Brazil relations and the potential loss of US F/A-18 union jobs. Hence my comment about a swing and a miss!

( http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/159061-meeting-the-needs-of-the-warfighter-from-the-air)

Four years ago the Super Tucano was already a proven platform, flying missions for military in several nations. Four years ago the U.S. Navy got busy evaluating the Super Tucano, conducting flight evaluations that included ISR missions, Close Air Support missions, Direct Action missions, and FAC(A) missions. The Navy also conducted weapons evaluations; deploying rockets and bombs, and .50cal ammunition from the aircraft’s internally mounted guns.

Four years ago Hawker Beechcraft was still working on the design of the AT-6…..

By the spring/summer of 2010 the Navy, with the Air Force onboard, was ready to lease four more Super Tucanos to deploy in support of troops on the ground in Afghanistan. Meanwhile Hawker Beechcraft was flying its first prototype, but still had a ways to go before weapons testing would be conducted. However, the Navy never leased the A-29. The Kansas delegation, worried that their hometown company would lose out on this opportunity, got the lease killed…..

Never mind the facts that the A-29 Super Tucano has logged 100,000 hours around the world, has a proven track record and performed well in combat situations to include the destruction of FARC rebel camps in the jungles of South America. Its affordability is known, its reliability has been established, and A-29 Super Tucano’s 130 variations of armament configurations offer the warfighter a multitude of options.

Never mind that the A-29 will be built in the U.S. with parts from American suppliers.

Ultimately what’s important is that our aviators are equipped with the best aircraft that ensures the highest degree of safety and success in delivering the needed support on the ground. The warrior on the ground along with loved ones at home don’t care about the company behind the plane. It’s time to set politics aside and get serious about focusing on the needs of the warfighter now.



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