Manzullo Blast Pentagon for Weakening U.S. Defense Industry

The following press release has been received from 16th District Congressman Don Manzullo:

Manzullo: Pentagon Continues to Send American Jobs Overseas,

Weaken U.S. Defense Industrial Base

[WASHINGTON]  Congressman Don Manzullo (R-IL) today said the Pentagon has again flouted the Buy American Act by planning to use American taxpayer dollars to purchase 21 Russian-made helicopters for use in Afghanistan when a less expensive American-made alternative is available, sending American jobs overseas and weakening the U.S. defense industrial base.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Manzullo asked the Pentagon to re-evaluate its procurement policies that have continually allowed the Department of Defense to bypass American companies and purchase foreign products with American tax dollars against the spirit of the Buy American Act, which requires at least 50 percent of all goods and services purchased by the government to be made in America.

The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command recently announced its intent to purchase 21 Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters to train Afghans, claiming the Afghans are familiar with the aircraft.

American-made Sikorsky Aircraft says its S-61 model is similar in size and ease of operation and is actually less expensive than the Russian version. United Technologies owns Sikorsky as well as Rockford’s Hamilton Sundstrand, which supplies each Sikorsky S-61 with fuel pumping equipment made in Rockford.

Manzullo said the Pentagon’s decision to buy Russian instead of American helicopters sends taxpayer dollars overseas instead of putting Americans back to work. In addition, it takes business away from an American defense contractor and further weakens the U.S. defense industrial base, the manufacturing sector that makes weapons that protect Americans from our enemies.

Don Manzullo

“If we can’t start converting the Afghans’ helicopter fleet away from Russian technology now, what makes us think that we’ll be able to sell them U.S.-made helicopters in the future? The Afghan forces will be even more reluctant years from now to buy from U.S. sources with a large contingent of Russian-made equipment already in stock,”massive unemployment continues to plague the American manufacturing sector.”

“Now is the time for Afghanistan to bite the bullet and upgrade to better U.S. technology, especially when the U.S. taxpayer is footing the bill and massive unemployment continues to plague the American manufacturing sector.”

For many years, Manzullo has been on a mission to change the Pentagon’s misguided procurement policies that often favor foreign companies over American manufacturers.

As Chairman of the House Small Business Committee, he subpoenaed a 3-star General in 2001 and convinced the Army to cancel a contract for Chinese-made U.S. Army berets and give the work to an American firm.

In 2003, he convinced the Air Force to stop using Russian-made titanium in aircraft procurements, which helped to save the U.S. titanium industry when it was on the ropes.

Finally, he also persuaded the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Pentagon to change their plans to supply the new Iraqi armed forces with American-made M-16s instead of Russian-made AK-47s when using U.S. taxpayer dollars.

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