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Taxpayer Group Praises Air Force for Permitting Open Competition to Replace Huey Helicopter, Warns Congress Against Tampering with Decision

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Last week’s decision by Air Force officials to hold an open competition for the Twin Huey Replacement helicopter is a win-win for service people as well as taxpayers – a decision Congress should respect, not reverse. That’s the reaction of National Taxpayers Union (NTU), which for many years has advocated a process that would deliver an aircraft for a critical mission in a fiscally responsible manner. The nonpartisan group vowed to strongly oppose attempts in the House or Senate to block the Air Force’s action.   

“Open competition is not simply about doing what’s cheap, it’s about finding the best value for those who will use the system and those who will foot the bill for it,” said NTU President Pete Sepp. “By vigorously committing to such a process for the Twin Huey Replacement, the Air Force can now get the right system into the field in short order. The alternatives are well-developed, and can be quickly evaluated.”

NTU has tackled numerous military procurement issues over its 47-year history, but first became involved in the Twin Huey Replacement in the fall of 2011, when the program was known as the Common Vertical Lift Support Platform (CVLSP). Back then – nearly five years ago – NTU urged Senate appropriators to support an open competition process and resist a possible Air Force move to invoke the Economy Act and press for “sole source procurement” of an aircraft.  CVLSP was terminated in 2013, and the project remained in limbo.

Last month NTU followed up with House and Senate Armed Services Committee Members in response to another push, from a group of House lawmakers, to direct a sole-source procurement of UH-60M helicopters to replace the Twin Huey. Sepp’s letter to the Committees noted that:  “The irony here is not lost on taxpayers, few of whom are experts in military contracting; thus it should certainly not escape Members of [the Committees].  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.”

With markups and debate over defense authorization and appropriation bills in the House and Senate rapidly approaching, Sepp said that NTU would be ready to resist any amendments or other legislative maneuvers to halt a competition for the future Twin Huey Replacement. “Although NTU will be following many national security spending matters in the coming days, the Twin Huey Replacement issue is emblematic of so many flaws in defense procurement and instructive of how those flaws can be fixed,” he concluded. “A transparent and open process that explores the options fairly can save lives as well as tax dollars.”

NTU is nonpartisan citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, limited government, and economic freedom at all levels. More information on NTU’s military procurement work, including additional analysis of the Twin Huey Replacement issue, is available at ntu.org.