Stamp out corrupt defense spending

Corruption is the elephant in the room on U.S. defense spending. An investigation into an Air Force unit nicknamed Big Safari may be just the ticket to at least wounding the pachyderm.

An Air Force unit called Big Safari, formerly known as the 645th Aeronautical Systems Group, is involved in defense contracting. According to two Air Force majors who spilled the beans to U.S. Reps. Ted Budd and Walter Jones, there is a “serious, systemic problem” with corruption in the unit. The two lawmakers, both Republicans from North Carolina, have asked Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to look into the problem.

Budd and Jones said a specific allegation involves a contract for military aircraft to be sold to Yemen. Big Safari steered the business to a New York firm — though its bid was $15 million higher than a competitor’s.

In addition, the planes were delivered months late and, once received, were of such poor quality that the Air Force rejected them.

The Yemen contract may well be the tip of a much larger, very dirty iceberg. The allegations need to be pursued tirelessly, thoroughly, and in a bipartisan fashion.

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