Friday, January 28, 2005

Lockheed reportedly to build Marine One


"WASHINGTON - In a surprise move, the U.S. Navy has chosen a trans-Atlantic team led by Lockheed Martin Corp. to build a new U.S. presidential helicopter fleet, a congressional source familiar with the decision said Friday.

The decision was a stunning setback for Connecticut-based United Technologies Corp.'s Sikorsky Aircraft unit which for nearly 50 years has built and maintained the green and white 'Marine One' helicopters that fly the president. Lawmakers say Lockheed Martin will build the next fleet of presidential helicopters."

This wasn't just a decision to build Marine One, it was a decision to build the next fleet of military combat helicopters.

There are two ways to view this, but no matter your perspective, this is a sad day for American industry.

If you are a protectionist - our military has just outsourced aircraft development to Europe. We are now dependent on foreign countries for U.S. military hardware and we are unable to produce our defense assets. It's almost like we're on the receiving end of Lend-Lease. Our tax dollars on national defense will now enrich Italy and the U.K., rather than create jobs and wealth at home.

If you are a globalist - U.S. companies are no longer capable of manufacturing the best military hardware in the world. Other nations, through ingenuity and drive, have surpassed our engineering capabilities to product a superior product. While it may be to our economic and strategic advantage to use offshore labour and technology, we no longer hold the "advantage" in our borders.

Aerospace is high-tech stuff, as difficult as anything on the planet today. Military aircraft are not a commodity like steel or plastic doo-dads - it is high up the value chain. This may be an isolated incident or indicative of something greater. If American companies can't build the best high-tech/high-value products available, we may letting our technological advantage over the rest of the world slip.

This is not a panic or crisis, but it's worth watching.


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