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01 March 2019

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Jim,

Would you expect Congress to attempt to sanction Boeing somehow for spinning off an offshore business unit in order to transparently bypass the burdensome and somewhat arbitrary FMS path? Also, with all the hubbub about Turkey buying S-400/500(?), I haven't seen similar excitement about India buying/using both Russian (substantial decrease over the past few years, however) and US equipment. I can imagine the intrigue on flight lines and ports...The mitigation of US administrivia via setting offshore and mixing US and other nation's kit may well put US equipment in proximity to Russian (or Chinese) equipment in the future with plenty of tech transfer/intel implications.

I would not. I have heard few defenses of the FMS system from the Congress. Frankly, I have heard few defenses from anyone. It has mostly been Rose Gottemoeller (now the NATO deputy secretary general) who seems content with the pace and cost of the process. To the contrary, this might—and I am indeed hoping that this will—spur some serious effort at reform. Yes, this administration has an initiative underway to revise its Conventional Arms Transfer Policy (CATP). The Bush 43 and Obama Administrations had their reform efforts as well. For this reason, I don't know that another run at the interagency process by temporary political appointees will work any better.

It seems that in cases where a firm attempts to extend the production run of originally US-used kit to other countries, that there is probably no way around FMS/DCS. But in cases where the US isn't buying, I can see where US firms are thus incentivized to try to avoid the constraints as Boeing is doing. Plenty of business abroad...

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  • James Hasik is a senior fellow at the Center for Government Contracting in the School of Business at George Mason University, and a senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center on Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. Since September 2001, he has been studying global security challenges and the economic enterprises that provide the tools to address them.

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