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Competition, Not Closed Process, Will Deliver Best Air Force Chopper, Taxpayer Group Tells Lawmakers

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Jenn Fedor, (703) 299-8698

(Washington, DC) – Taxpayers and Americans in uniform benefit the most when military procurement is conducted competitively, and the latest example should be the Air Force’s replacement for the aging UH-N Twin Huey helicopter. That longstanding principle came through loud and clear from National Taxpayers Union (NTU) in a letter sent today to House and Senate Armed Services Committee Members.

“With four decades of experience engaging in military funding issues, NTU and its staff believe a properly structured competitive process will still produce the best outcome for our service people as well as for taxpayers,” NTU President Pete Sepp wrote to lawmakers on both Committees. “Furthermore, we believe that with your leadership, such a process can furnish a suitable system to the Air Force in an expeditious timeframe.”

Since the mid-2000s, the Air Force has been actively pursuing a replacement for the Twin Huey, whose mission is confined largely to patrolling vast ICBM complexes and ferrying VIPs. In 2011, when a program for such a replacement known as the Common Vertical Lift Support Platform (CVLSP) was underway, NTU cautioned against reported attempts to invoke the Economy Act, which would allow a helicopter purchase to occur without the advantage of competitive bidding. CVLSP was terminated in 2013, but recently senior Air Force officials once again revived the idea of a potential “sole-source” chopper buy.  

“The irony here is not lost on taxpayers, few of whom are experts in military contracting; thus it should certainly not escape Members of this Committee,” Sepp wrote.  “Had the Air Force avoided this tortuous chain of events and instead worked with Congress in a consistent manner – prior to 2013 – to conduct a competitive procurement for the UH-1N Replacement, the Air Force would have a capable fleet fully in service or phasing into service now.” The letter then explained the advantages that a competitive process could have, including a wider range of robust, cost-effective off-the-shelf platforms, better planning of life-cycle issues for each candidate aircraft, and a badly-needed model for rational procurement that explores innovative alternatives.

“The UH-1N Replacement should serve as an example of sound management rather than a failure of sensible oversight, and NTU stands ready to assist you in reaching this goal,” the letter concluded.

NTU is making numerous recommendations concerning Pentagon budget policy as Congress begins the task of crafting National Defense Authorization Bills for the upcoming fiscal year. To view a copy of NTU’s letter on the Twin Huey Replacement, visit [link].

National Taxpayers Union, “The Voice of America’s Taxpayers”, is a nonprofit organization working for lower taxes, smaller government, and economic freedom at all levels. More information on NTU’s work, is available at www.ntu.org.