- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 28, 2004

We appreciate the chance to correct misrepresentations about the U.S. Army’s Aerial Common Sensor (ACS) program and the U.S. Navy’s Marine One helicopter competition that appeared in the Oliver North column in the Aug. 15 Commentary pages.

ACS is the Army’s next generation airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system. Much has been written about the aircraft platform. But ACS’ heart is a very sophisticated mission package to let warfighters detect and respond faster and more accurately to battlefield threats.

In addition to competitive advantage for warfighters, our ACS solution will tremendously benefit U.S. industry. Our solution is fully Buy America qualified, with more than 90 percent Buy America content and 100 percent of the mission payload U.S.- produced. ACS will create more than 800 new high-technology jobs in 27 states. Moreover, Lockheed Martin’s ACS industry team includes more than 100 U.S. firms, 40 of them small and disadvantaged businesses.

On Marine One, Lockheed Martin is prime contractor for a team including Bell Helicopter Textron and AgustaWestland, developer of the combat-proven EH101 on which the US101 will be based. We offer the only battle-proven, three-engined helicopter ready now to serve in a post-September 11 environment which needs its 21st century capabilities. In short, we offer the best helicopter system for the president.

Contrary to Mr. North’s ill-informed assertion that the helicopter will be “Italian-built,” the US101 will be built in Texas and integrated in New York, creating more than 1,000 skilled jobs in those two states alone. More than 200 suppliers in 41 states will create many more jobs as our team will insource to the U.S. manufacture a helicopter now produced abroad.

It is true the US101 will have components manufactured in the Britain and Italy by our partner, AgustaWestland. If this is worth Mr. North’s criticism, he should consider the competing helicopter, which also will have non-U.S. content and was designed with the aid of companies in China, Taiwan and Japan.

Moreover, if Mr. North’s concern is American jobs, we are surprised he overlooked our competitor’s track record of job outsourcing — including transferring some 3,000 jobs from the U.S. to places such as China in the last year alone.

Likewise in the case of ACS, Mr. North focuses his criticism on our aircraft provider, Brazilian-owned Embraer.

We analyzed more than 100 aircraft before determining the Embraer ERJ-145 fully met the mission requirements, was the most cost-effective, lowest-risk platform for this program, and hence the best for taxpayers. Embraer already contributes $1.3 billion to the U.S. economy annually. For ACS, its U.S. subsidiary is investing more than $13 million in a new Jacksonville, Fla., assembly facility that will provide more than 200 new U.S. jobs.

These workers will be trained in the most advanced commercial aircraft production technologies, representing an “in sourcing” of domestic competency in this arena.

As for the sensitive technology transfer issue cited by Mr. North, after assembly in Jacksonville, the green aircraft for ACS will be transported to a cleared operation of our L3 teammate in Greenville, Tex., where the mission package will be installed.

L3 has done similar installations for many sensitive government programs, and appropriate security measures will be applied.

We are proud to partner with the U.S. government in the developing the ACS system for our nation’s warfighters and are confident our solution will help them accomplish their important mission, while enhancing the U.S. aerospace industrial base.

Both ACS and the US101 recognize aerospace is a global industry and that the end users of our products — whether warfighters or the commander in chief — can benefit by combining American know-how with international partners’ skills.

WES COLBURN,

Vice president, ACS Program

STEVE RAMSEY,

Vice president, US101 Program

Lockheed Martin Corp.


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