- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 17, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

I read “Do we still believe in competition?” (Nation, Dec. 9), by Gov. Bob Riley, Alabama Republican, with considerable interest. Mr. Riley does a fine job representing the interests of his state, but he is mistaken in claiming that politics or anti-competitive philosophy prompted the Government Accountability Office’s report overturning the Air Force’s decision to award the $35 billion tanker contract to Airbus and Northrop Grumman.

The GAO made clear that the contract award was overturned because the process was fatally tilted in favor of Airbus. Also, it did not take into account the large construction cost involved in retrofitting air bases to accommodate the larger Airbus A-330 tanker.

Rigging the process to favor a foreign company over an American one is not free trade or fair competition. Fair competition results when the Air Force tells competitors what it needs and competitors offer their best product at the lowest price. The Air Force has just issued a request for new proposals, and the Airbus team has already threatened to pull out of the competition unless the rules are changed to favor its aircraft.

That does not seem to be the competitive spirit Americans like to see. It sounds like Airbus is afraid of fair and open competition and, instead, seeks political favoritism.

RICHARD H. BLACK

Sterling, Va.

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