U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan last week questioned Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on the U.S. Air Force’s decision to award a $950 million defense contract to a Brazilian government-controlled aerospace conglomerate while Brazil’s government refuses to hand over the purported killer of an Air Force reservist from Newton Falls.
The contract was awarded to Brazilian-based Embraer over Wichita, Kansas-based Beechcraft.
Last Tuesday, Ryan, of Niles, D-13th, a member of the Defense Subcommittee on Appropriations, questioned Hagel on the issue of national security, the risk of losing up to 1,400 highly skilled American jobs and Brazil’s refusal to extradite an American citizen accused of murdering her husband, Karl Hoerig, a combat-veteran pilot.
Ryan asked Secretary Hagel if he could review this award personally and make an independent determination on whether it should be allowed to stand as a “Program of Record.” If the contract becomes a Program of Record, Brazilian- based Embraer would stand to win billions of dollars in additional contracts.
“I don’t believe that the initial award should have been made to Embraer, and I have concerns about the fairness of the procurement,” Ryan said.
“More significantly, we have been working with the State Department for the last six years to get Claudia Hoerig extradited back to the United States to face justice,” he added. “It is difficult for me to see the Brazilian government thumb their nose at the State Department, and then the Defense Department gives them this huge contract.”
Beechcraft, which depends upon a strong supply chain that covers 38 states, protested the award because of concerns with the procurement process, but the automatic stay triggered by law was overridden by the Air Force.
The initial contract to deliver 20 planes to Afghanistan has a ceiling of $950 million, and the Air Force has stated in congressional testimony that as many as 27 countries may purchase this aircraft through the Building Partner Capacity program. The value of those awards could be as high as $10 billion.
“We can’t reward bad behavior by giving Brazil this contract,” Ryan said. “Karl Hoerig served our country and died at the hands of a person now living freely and openly in Brazil. There has to be consequences for harboring fugitives.”