Procurement: February 22, 2004

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It turns out that the F-18 aircraft for sale on eBay was obtained at a scrap auction, because the government officials failed to cut up the parts and render the aircraft  unflyable. An aircraft collector (Ken Bryant of Air Capitol Warbirds Inc., in Wichita, Kansas) bid 25 cents a pound, and scared away the usual gang of scrap dealers that were expecting to pick up the aircraft for a less than a nickel a pound. The aircraft went through several owners before the current one (via broker Landa and Associates of Arlington, Washington). put it up for auction on eBay. The current owner says the aircraft can be restored to flying condition for $9 million. A meeting with government officials (including representatives from the State Department, the Department of Defense and the FBI) left the owner in legal possession of his aircraft. But he had to promise not to sell it to anyone but Americans, and to keep the F-18 in the United States. The FBI advised that the aircraft not be sold at all. The eBay auction ended without a sale, mainly because no one could come up with the cash (at least one check bounced.) The owner is now trying to sell it directly (via the broker). Given the publicity he has gotten, that would be possible. There is still a risk that the government might decide to sue to get the aircraft back. Anyone who does get it flying again will have to spend at least 40,000 a month on maintenance. And that's only if the aircraft is only flown 2-3 hours a month. 

 


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