Guest Editorial (Governor Riley): Good Deal for America

The Air Force's selection of Northrop Grumman to build its replacement for the KC-135 unleashed an unfortunate tsunami of shock and indignation from some politicians. I'm shocked by the shrill rhetoric and outright falsehoods being hurled at the winners of this competition.

Northrop Grumman in an American company, headquartered in Los Angeles. It employs 120,000 Americans in every corner of this great nation. Northrop Grumman has been a fixture in American aerospace and is as American as apple pie and baseball.

It secured suppliers in the same manner as its competitor and its victory will employ 48,000 Americans in 49 states in direct and indirect jobs. More than 7,500 of those jobs are in California, 4,000 in Arizona, 1,800 in New Mexico and 2,300 in Ohio. 5,000 of those Americans call Alabama home. To decry the Air Force's decision as sending jobs overseas ignores the reality of these thousands of American jobs being created at home. It also ignores the fact that the Northrop Grumman tanker program does not transfer any jobs from the United States overseas. Actually, with the Northrop win, new jobs will be added to the U.S. industrial base.

The competition for the tanker contract was the most rigorous and transparent in the history of the Air Force. The Defense Department inspector general, the Government Accounting Office and Army and Navy acquisition personnel were all involved to ensure fair methodologies were used in judging the competitors' proposals. Throughout the process, both competitors praised the Air Force for conducting a fair and open competition.

Our troops won because they are getting an aircraft the Air Force decided has the most capabilities.

Our citizens won because the Air Force selected the aircraft that was judged to be the best value to the taxpayers.

Our nation won because America is getting a second aerospace sector and the first new wide-body aircraft manufacturing plant in 40 years.