January 24, 2005
U.S. House Small Business Committee Chairman Don Manzullo (R-IL) is urging the Pentagon to award the $1.6 Billion contract for new Marine One presidential helicopters to Sikorsky Aircraft and keep its defense technology and associated jobs in the U. S.
In a letter sent to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today, Manzullo said the Pentagon should not even consider giving the contract to Sikorsky's foreign competitor because of the sensitive technology that would transfer overseas with the project. The U.S. Navy is expected to award the contract for 23 helicopters on January 28 to either Connecticut-based Sikorsky or British-Italian firm AgustaWestland.
"Major think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the National Academy of Sciences have recently launched studies into our eroding defense industrial base and its implications for our national security," Manzullo said. "We are baffled as to how the Department of Defense can even consider sending this cutting-edge technology overseas."
Manzullo, who has held more than 60 hearings on the U.S.'s diminishing manufacturing base, said 16 industries vital to defense manufacturing are in danger of disappearing in the U.S. Manzullo commended Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Industrial Policy Suzanne Patrick for her efforts to identify the critical defense industries that must be preserved in the U.S. as a matter of national security.
Manzullo also supports the Sikorsky bid because it would keep 100 percent of the work in the U.S. If AgustaWestland wins the contract, only 65 percent of the aircraft would be made in the U.S. "The best value for our taxpayers and our President is to award the Marine One contract to a company that keeps 100 percent of the jobs and cutting-edge technology right here in America," Manzullo said.