As the tension builds, with a few even speculating that neither the C-17 nor the F-35 extra engine will make it in to final fiscal 2011 defense appropriations, things have heated up at the Farnborough International Airshow, taking place from July 19-25 in the UK.
Dave Hess, president of Pratt & Whitney, the manufacturer of the current F-35 engine, acknowledged at the show that his company was actively lobbying lawmakers on the issue. He insisted, though, that the rival team of General Electric and Rolls Royce are spending “orders of magnitude” more.
While he acknowledged that the issue is an “enormous priority” for both GE and Rolls, Jean Lydon-Rodgers, president of GE Aviation’s military business and former head of the GE-Rolls engine team, rejected Pratt’s criticism as “unfair”.
Boeing and EADS also took their show on the road, each touting the size of their orders. Bids for the $35 billion KC-X tanker contract have closed and a decision is due in November.
As the Pentagon’s belt gets tighter and tighter, the fierce competition for contracts is reaching a fever pitch. PACs associated with both Lockheed and Boeing are on track to make record-level campaign contributions this election cycle, with each already well over the $2 million mark. Both have already maxed out contributions to several lawmakers, as well as to party committees.
According to The Hill:
Lockheed’s PAC has maxed out its contributions to Reps. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, who is facing a tougher reelection fight than usual; Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), Armed Service’s ranking member; Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), a new member of the House Appropriations Committee; Bill Young (Fla.), the top Republican defense appropriator; and Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.), who is running for the Senate. Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) also received maximum contributions.
Boeing’s PAC made the maximum $10,000 in contributions to Reps. Todd Akin (R-Mo.); John Boehner (R-Ohio,) the House minority leader; James Clyburn (S.C.), the Democratic whip; and Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee. Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) received $10,000 for his Senate run, as did Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.).
Contributions continue to increase. From EADS to General Dynamics to Northrop Grumman, as talk of trimming the fat gets louder, so does the fight over what will remain.