In an effort to actually steal jobs away from hard working Americans the Chinese have slowly started to make bids on U.S. defense contracts. The maker of China’s new “stealth” fighter has joined forces with a failing U.S. corporation in order to make bids on military aviation contracts. The Chinese are taking significant interest in supplying the United States with helicopters aimed to replace the aging Marine One fleet used by the President. While opposition to any bid made by the Chinese would be incredibly strong it does show that the Chinese want in on our defense budget. It’s also likely that the Chinese want to secure some of our technology so that they can copy it and re-brand it as their own.
China Aviation Industry Corp., known as AVIC, has been involved in talks with California-based U.S. Aerospace Inc. about offering the AC-313—China’s largest domestically produced helicopter—as the next generation of Marine One, the people involved in the partnership say. Those same people say that AVIC is also looking to replace the Air Forces aging T-38 trainers with its own L-15 jet trainer. The contract, whoever it is awarded to, is expected to be the largest military aviation contract of this decade, with the U.S.likely to buy about 400 and other allied countries about 600 more as the jet will become the standard for training pilots to fly the U.S. F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters.
U.S. Aerospace has a questionable track record when it comes to bids on defense contracts. It’s best known for making a failed attempt to enter the bid for Air Force refueling tankers. U.S. Aerospace offered up the Ukrainian made Antonov which even Ukrainian’s don’t want to fly in. On September 30 the company recorded a net loss for the quarter of $11.5 million dollars and they subsequently de-registered their stock which was previously traded over the counter. U.S. Aerospace believes that the idea of procuring defense products from China has support among contacts in the U.S. government and military who want to improve ties with Beijing and help cut defense spending. While we want to improve ties with Beijing we certainly don’t want to give an unknown control over our military might.
AVIC is looking to secure the contract for Marine One helicopters with China’s only self produced helicopter; the AC-313. The AC-313, which made its first flight last year, is powered by three engines made by Pratt & Whitney and can seat up to 27 passengers and two crew members. It is designed to compete with the likes of Sikorsky and AgustaWestland in the global market for civilian helicopters. The helicopter seems to “borrow” a lot of technology and even design from Soviet era helicopters like the Mi-8 and Mi-17.
“It may sound ludicrous but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen,” said John Kirkland, a lawyer for U.S. Aerospace who is directly involved in the negotiations and authorized to speak on the company’s behalf. “We want China to supply aircraft to the U.S. because we think it makes economic sense.” It may make sense to the guy who stands to profit from its success but to those in the industry it’s still ludicrous. Entering the race for Marine One with a first year helicopter, a Russian copy at best, is never going to pan out.
There is a long history of anti-Chinese sentiment both within the military and Americans themselves and any bid by a foreign government meets fierce resistance; especially China. In 2000 the Army had to recall thousands of Chinese made berets, Army garrison headgear, after lawmakers raised “buy American” concerns. If the United States is so anti-China to refuse to let it’s soldiers even wear Chinese made berets we can rest assured that we won’t let the President fly around in a Chinese helicopter.