The left has made it their mission to create any potential connection between President Trump and the Russians, even when there is no “there” there. Trump has shown he is not guilty of any Russian collusion despite accusations to the contrary. But a top DOD contract with has a peculiar tie to a Russian aircraft may be an issue.

Major defense companies are competing for the $16 billion T-X Trainer contract, expected to be awarded any day. One competitor, Leonardo, submitted a bid that is eerily similar to a Russian aircraft and raises serious questions about the submission.

Air Space Magazine examined the two aircraft and pointed out how the Leonardo product is similar to the Russian craft:

“Like the T-50, Leonardo’s Italian-built Aermacchi M-346—dubbed the T-100 for U.S. Air Force purposes—is no newcomer. The aircraft began life as a joint project with Russian company Yakovlev, but the partnership fell apart after a few years, and the two companies went their separate ways. (The M-346 looks strikingly like the Russian product of the collaboration, the Yak-130, but has no Russian components, says Leonardo.)”

And a writer for Newsmax put it succinctly when he laid out Leonardo’s plight:

“Leonardo S.p.A., an Italian aerospace company, is teaming up with its American subsidiary Leonardo DRS. Their offering is a derivative of an older Russian jet that is currently built in Italy. If they win the competition, they plan to move their operations to the U.S. But regardless, they are offering an older, modified Russian jet. The Italians fly 18 such planes. The Poles fly 8. Singapore has 12 in service. You get the point. This offering doesn’t make a lot of sense for America, no matter what bargain price they may offer.”

Aside from the Russian issue, this contract has been plagued by reports of corruption that could complicate the bid even further. Another bidder, Korean Aerospace Industries, has a long history of questionable investigations and scandals.

A major investigation by the Moon administration into Korea Aerospace Industries’ business practices in 2017 found alleged scandals from the company’s executives embezzling money and bribing politicians in the Park administration to cover up of significant flaws in a military chopper.

KAI underwent investigation in July on allegations that it may have manipulated research and development costs for its Surion helicopter. KAI was suspected of making excess profits by attracting government investments of $1.15 billion on the Surion project.

The Board Audit and Inspection of Korea (BAI) said the helicopter came up short in 29 of the 101 categories in testing to evaluate safety in winter conditions.

According to the Korea Times:

“The Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) revealed that KAI officials illegally acquired 54.7 billion won ($48 million) by inflating development costs for the Surion helicopter. They, the BAI noted, set up their own companies outside the KAI and stole taxpayers' money through business contracts with the KAI based on the fake costs.”

And the Korea Herald:

“Prosecutors have looked into the alleged fraud since the Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea in 2015 implied KAI had extorted some 54.7 billion won ($48.1 million) in sum, partly by fabricating the source of investments from the state-run Defense Acquisition Program Administration in the development project of Surion. KAI claimed the money is not illicitly gained, citing the risk of brokering the investors.”

KAI, which works with Lockheed Martin on the T-50 trainer, underwent a raid from 100 prosecutors and investigators on their offices. They reportedly found that KAI had allegedly purchased and installed an eraser program possibly to delete evidence left on computers and electronic devices. Five of KAI’s subcontractors underwent a raid within days of the previous raid. Prosecutors suspected KAI and its subcontractors colluded in embezzlement in the T-50 and Surion projects. A second raid of KAI’s headquarters also occurred to get more evidence of suspected price manipulation.

Some of these allegations have yet to be resolved, but it's clear there are some serious questions surrounding some of these bids that could prove problematic for the Administration.

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