(Washington D.C.) – Today, in a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) highlighted the perils of outsourcing our military technology. The speech comes one week after the Air Force awarded a $40 billion contract to build our aerial refueling tankers to the European-based company Airbus.
The full text of Senator Murray's speech follows:
Mr. President, over the course of this past week, I have come to the floor each day to sound an alarm about the misguided – and potentially dangerous – decision to outsource a major piece of our aerospace industry to Europe.
I have talked about the dismay Boeing workers felt in my home state of Washington when they learned that the Pentagon had decided to award a contract to build the next generation of aerial refueling tankers – not to Boeing – but to the French company Airbus.
I have talked about my shock that we would award Airbus this contract, given the EU's lengthy history of subsidizing these planes in order to create European – not American - jobs.
And I’ve talked about the fact that Airbus is being less than open about how many U.S. jobs it will really create in this country.
All of these are reasons to be deeply troubled about this decision.
But today, I want to address yet another concern.
And that is the ability to control our national security once we’ve effectively turned over control of our military capability and technology to a foreign government.
And Mr. President, this is an issue that we all need to take a good hard look at.
America’s global military strength is built on our ability to use military might anywhere in the world, at a moment's notice.
And our aerial refueling tankers are the critical link that allows the U.S. Air Force to stretch across the globe.
From Fairchild Air Base in Washington state to the Far East.
From Andrews to Baghdad.
Our bombers and fighters can fly farther and faster because our tankers, which supply gas in mid-air, are always there to support them.
Tankers are so important to our military that Army General Hugh Shelton – the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs – once said that the motto of the tanker and airlift forces should be, “Try fighting without us.”
Until now, the technology that powered these critical planes rested in the hands of Boeing – and it's American workforce - who have been building them for more then 50 years.
Until now, our tankers have been built by manufacturers, designers, and engineers who have been able to pass on the skills and knowledge that 50 years of experience brings – and who are bound by law from selling technology to countries that sponsor terrorism.
On Friday, that ended.
On Friday, the Air Force made a decision that will enable a company controlled by a foreign government to develop and share that technology.
Mr. President, are we going to look back on this decision and say this is the moment when we threw open the doors to our military technology?
Are we going to allow our tankers – a linchpin of our national defense – to be the first domino to fall?
I’ve said this before. With one contract, we could wipe out what it has taken our nation 50 years to build up – an experienced and exceptional aerospace industry.
And once it’s gone, we won’t get it back. We won't get it back.
And once we lose the ability to produce military technology, we begin to lose control over our nation's defense.
Mr. President, this decision effectively gives foreign governments control over aspects of our national security.
In this case, we are giving up control and $40 billion to the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company - or EADS – a company that has made no secret of their desire to dismantle the American aerospace industry.
In fact, this decision can be seen as a $40 billion investment in the military research budget of EADS and Airbus.
So we are allowing Airbus to take over a cornerstone of our military technology – and we’re actually paying them to do it.
And while that certainly doesn't make sense, the fact that this deal could allow Airbus to share American technology with whomever they please is just plain dangerous.
The Air Force's decision means that American tanker technology, developed over the last 50 years, is now out on the free market, available to the highest bidder.
Under American law, the law that Boeing abides by, they are prohibited from selling technology to countries that sponsor terrorism.
In other words, we have control over where this technology goes.
But EADS doesn’t have to follow the same restrictions.
They’ve said so in the past and they've demonstrated that they don't care about giving technology to terrorists. They only care about the bottom line.
In 2005, EADS was caught trying to sell military helicopters to Iran.
But if the company is so pro-American, why was it ignoring U.S. policy to isolate Iran?
The answer to that question was simple to EADS representative Michel Tripier.
When asked about this in 2005, his response was "As a European company, we're not supposed to take into account embargoes from the U.S."
Let me repeat that "As a European company we're not supposed to take into account embargoes from the U.S."
And in 2006, EADS proved they meant it when they tried to sell transport and patrol planes to Venezuela – a circumvention of U.S. law.
What if in the years to come Airbus wants to sell tanker technology to Pakistan? Or China? Or to Iran?
Mr. President, I want to remind my colleagues that Russia owns 5 percent of EADS and is pushing for 10 percent more.
And the United Arab Emirates now controls 7.5 percent of EADS.
Mr. President, what the Air Force has done is extremely short-sighted.
They have said it wasn't their responsibility to take our security or our industry into account. Well, I say to my colleagues, that Congress must.
Mr. President, we need to be more forward-looking than the Air Force was last Friday.
What happens in 20 years if EADS is controlled by countries that disagree with our policy on Israel?
Or elsewhere in the Middle East or around the globe?
What if they decide to slow down production of tankers to put us at a strategic disadvantage?
Right now we have no way to prevent that.
And Mr. President, where do we go from here? What other aspect of our military technology are we willing to part with?
Our aerial tankers are the backbone of our military strength. But what about our other critical military supplies?
Are we going to outsource our tanks or our military satellites?
What about the missiles that are currently made in Alabama?
What about equipment that has to be delivered constantly to our troops in the field – like meals ready to eat or ammunition?
I wouldn’t support that. And I know many of my colleagues never would either.
So where do we draw the line?
The Air Force said that it wasn't their job to consider the future of our national security and defense.
But we as U.S. Senators have taken an oath to do just that.
Mr. President, I urge all of my colleagues to take pause and truly think about the consequences of this short-sighted contract.
The American people – and our national security – are depending on it.