AFA Conference: The chairman and CEO of EADS North America is pressing the case of his company’s Lakota helicopters for the Air Force mission of protecting nuclear missile sites.
In a letter hand-delivered today Fanning_Eric USAF UH72A 09.11.13 to Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning, Sean O’Keefe argued that the Air Force’s plan to refit the Hueys and maintain them would cost “more than the acquisition and operation of UH-72A Lakota (helicopters).” Also, sInce the Air Force will be the only service still flying Hueys, it will have to bear the additional costs of “logistics, supply and training pipelines.” But the Air Force must act soon, O”Keefe said, because the Army has already bought most of its 280-plus Lakotas and the production line “is winding down.”
The Air Force has said repeatedly that the Huey helicopters currently doing the job don’t have the range, speed or reliablility to execute this mission. Then it changed its mind. Here’s why:
“It’s just a matter of, can we take risk for a few more years. Yes, probably. Well, I guess we can because there’s no money,” Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, head of Global Strike Command, told reporters in February last year.
So the Air Force is now on the cusp of a formal decision to refit some of its UH-INs (as the Hueys are formally known) instead. And O’Keefe argues that buying the Lakotas “will lower the risk to the US Air Force nuclear enterprise, and will save taxpayers the considerable cost of future recapitalization.”
We’ll see if Fanning or the presumptive secretary, Debbie Lee James of SAIC, thinks O’Keefe is right.