Marine One: Buy the Best or Just Buy American?

Policy Forum
November 9, 2004 11:00AM
Auditorium/Wintergarden
Featuring Daniel Griswold, Cato Institute; William R. Hawkins, U.S. Business and Industry Council; Loren Thompson, Lexington Institute; Malcolm Wallop, Former U.S. Senator; moderated by Charles V. Peña, Cato Institute.
The Marine One helicopter might be the most recognizable symbol of the president of the United States. After 30 years of service, the current fleet of helicopters is due to be replaced. The contract is worth $1.6 billion and could mean an additional $8 billion in helicopters for the Air Force, Coast Guard, and Department of Homeland Security for the winner. By law, at least 50 percent of a U.S. weapon system must be made in America. Both Sikorsky’s All American Team and Lockheed Martin’s US101 team are engaged in a fierce competition to portray themselves as being more American than the other. How much should “buy American” be a factor in this or any other defense procurement? Is such an approach a sound economic and trade policy in a globalized economy? What are the other factors that should determine which design is better? What are the consequences if the best design has foreign involvement?