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NTU Urges the Pentagon Not to Revive the C-130J Transport Program

April 28, 2005

Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
The Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

Dear Mr. Secretary:

On behalf of the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I write to commend your most recent efforts to terminate or reduce expenditures for wasteful, obsolete, or low-priority weapons systems. As you may remember, a January 3, 2005 letter from NTU Director of Government Affairs Paul Gessing praised your initiative to cut purchases of the F/A-22 Raptor as one of many vital ?steps in transforming the military into a lighter, better, and hopefully less-costly 21st Century fighting force.? For this reason, our members are concerned over public statements last week that indicate you may be re-visiting the Defense Department?s decision to cancel the controversial and fiscally-challenged C-130J transport program.

Even though supporters of the program point to the C-130J?s recent improvements in certain performance categories, as well as its service record in other nations? air forces, the preponderance of evidence continues to show that termination of the program is the best option for taxpayers and the military. From 1998 through 2004, authoritative sources such as the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Defense Department Inspector General have documented the aircraft?s numerous performance deficiencies. Just last month, the Defense Department?s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation added to this volume of criticism by identifying defects in C-130J?s subsystems reliability, software, and defensive features.

Auditors have also cited the commercial acquisition strategy (in which the aircraft was characterized as available for sale in the civil airlift market) as one of many reasons why cost control and oversight were lacking during the C-130J?s procurement. Yet, the GAO established that the U.S. Air Force initially did not request the C-130J, even though at Congress?s political behest (and taxpayer expense) the aircraft has been replacing other serviceable C-130s.

As with any defense program under scrutiny for cancellation, the C-130J?s proponents have sought to minimize these past difficulties and paint a rosier future for the aircraft?s military and fiscal performance. Nonetheless, taxpayers should not be forced to gamble an additional $5 billion on this doubtful outcome. The backers of this program have not met any reasonable burden of proof in showing that the C-130J should proceed with full funding. Given the persistence of budget deficits and the prominence of other military needs, terminating C-130J continues to be a wise move.

Several other citizen groups have called attention to the C-130J?s past shortcomings and poor prospects for improvement. The Project on Government Oversight and Taxpayers for Common Sense are just two such organizations who share this concern, and are likewise urging you to stay the course and protect taxpayers by winding down procurement of the C-130J. In a separate letter sent to you today, these citizen groups are urging you to ?end the overpriced, unneeded, and problem-plagued C-130J program.?

Mr. Secretary, our members have long admired your deliberative and sensible approach toward prioritizing defense programs in a manner that yields maximum benefits to taxpayers as well as members of the armed forces. NTU supports your original decision to cancel the C-130J program, and we hope you will stand by it as well.


Pete Sepp
Vice President for Communications