|Updated: Au 14-Sep-2006||NATO Speeches|
12 Sept. 2006
with NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and the Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment, Marshall S. Billingslea on NATO moving to acquire C-17 Strategic Airlift Aircraft
JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (Secretary General of NATO): Well, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I come to you in buoyant mood because I think I have good news. Because it gives me great pleasure to tell you that today a Letter of Intent has been released by 13, 1-3, NATO allies, to launch contract negotiations for the purchase of C-17 transport aircraft, Boeing C-17 transport aircraft, that is.
On behalf of these nations, these 13 nations, the NATO Maintenance Supply Agency, NAMSA, well-known to you, has begun negotiations with Boeing and the development of a formal Weapons System Partnership, as things go, among those nations.
Let me start by credit a few people for this breakthrough. I do consider this a major breakthrough and I'll tell you why in a second. But let me start by thanking the nations that have decided to pave the way for this initiative.
It's an open project, 1-3, 13 nations, NATO allies now, and of course, I encourage as many nations as possible to join.
Marshall Billingslea, he's not sitting here for nothing. He deserves great credit. Marshall and your team, Marshall, in the Defence Investment Division, because they have worked relentlessly and tirelessly, as I know, to transform what was a good idea. I've supported this idea from the very outset. But you have to transform this good idea into complete reality.
I commend Marshall, you and your team, for your efforts.
As I said, NAMSA will now team up with Boeing to implement the agreement. I wish them success, and I thank NAMSA for their commitment now already.
But let me go to the contrary. Why is this of such great importance for NATO? Let me give you a few reasons.
First of all, the enormous relevance to our operations, because it shows that NATO allies are committed to the successful conduct of NATO expeditionary operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Well no need to mention Afghanistan . And elsewhere. NATO must be, is and must be made more expeditionary. And you know as well as I do that strategic airlift is an absolutely essential ingredient in expeditionary operations. You know we have already strategic lift initiatives. We have the SALIS agreement. We have other initiatives floating around. I consider this initiative complementary to those other initiatives, to make NATO, the North Atlantic Alliance more expeditionary.
Second point, as I know having now in the meantime flown many thousands of miles on C-17s, it is a fairly incredible machine, which can fly long distances, including, of course, an air-to-air refuelling capability. It can land without much of a runway. It can land on short runways, on dirt runways. And it can transport huge quantities of troops, or hardware, helicopters or tanks, special operations forces and what have you.
Second element. NATO is about teaming up and we have now seen 13 nations, and there might be more soon, team up. And this is the way, as we've seen, by the way, with the NATO AWACS, how nations can team up and how they can join together to create a critical capability, to create added value.
If they weren't in the Alliance , those nations, probably such an initiative would not get off the ground.
The third element I want to outline is speed. The process has been, I think, exceedingly fast, driven by the realization by nations that they have an urgent unmet requirement for strategic lift. So the nations, the 13 nations, had a can-do and later will-do attitude, and I think we see the results.
So in other words, NATO is adding much needed capabilities to its tool kit and I have already referred to the NATO AWACS. It's now here with this initiative, 13 nations, multinational air crews, the focus on operations rapid response.
Of course, I should not forget to mention an important element. You see here new allies contributing to NATO security. If we look at the 13 nations, 9 of them, 9 of the 13 are between the newest entrants in NATO and together with the United States , the Netherlands , Denmark and Italy . So this is another landmark, I think, and it's another way of perfect example of how NATO by expanding its membership is reaping the benefits of having many new allies ready and willing to team up to provide the capability.
May I say, if I mention the capability, that of course, the buying in of these nations into this initiative, of course, will serve NATO. But if the hours are used for the European Union or for the UN or for whatever other purpose, it might serve the nations very well indeed. So I could also add that this is a plus for the EU. It might be a plus for those nations involved in United Nations or European Union operations.
Finally, it sets the stage for Riga, for the Riga Summit at the end of November, where it is my strong ambition and the allies' strong ambition, that we have a summit which will focus on NATO's operations and on the transformation, not only of the Alliance, but also of our militaries, to conduct operations. And I think, in other words, that this NATO Strategic Airlift Capability will be one of the concrete initiatives which will be showcased at the Summit .
That's it. We've worked hard for it. Now the second phase is starting. The phase of negotiations. I've already called on all parties, including Boeing, to show maximum flexibility and to make the negotiations work, but this is what I had to tell you on what I think is a very important initiative to the benefit of NATO and to the benefit of NATO's transformation.
Thank you so much. I must tell you that I'll have a prime minister soon who is coming to visit me, so it's... if there are no very urgent questions this is it as far as I'm concerned.
MODERATOR: Maybe the Secretary General will have time for a question, but only related to the C-17?
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Please do.
Q: What's the budget? I haven't seen the PR, the press release on this. I haven't seen the press release on this, but what's the budget for this, if there is one? And you mentioned weapons development negotiations. Are you just referring to the aircraft, or do you mean weapons systems that go on these transport aircraft? And what's the timing? When will the first aircraft be purchased (inaudible)...
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: I can answer the middle part of your question because I'll turn to Marshall for the financial and other details. But I did not speak about developing weapons systems. Then I have made you confused or I was confused myself. I mean, if I did say that, that's not correct. Of course, we'll be developing this initiative, but it is not paired with developing of other weapons system. Unrelated.
Marshall , may I turn over to you for the budget and the other questions, and in the meantime, thank you very much for your attention.
Thank you, Marshall .
MARSHALL BILLINGSLEA (NATO Assistant Secretary General, Defence Investment Division): Thank you, sir.
Okay, I am the Assistant Secretary General of NATO. I'm available to answer such questions as I can. Brooks, I'll come to the questions that you have.
I have Boeing here also, and in fact, I'd like to ask them up to the table, if I could, Oris(?) and your guys, because some of these questions I may not be, in fact, able to answer myself. These may be questions better posed to industry.
The Secretary General mentioned, let me clarify, he mentioned a Weapons System Partnership, a WSP. That is the arrangement that NATO will use... this will be incorporated under NATO, as a NATO entity. NAMSA has several of these entities and this will be one of those.
So that is what he meant. We're not talking about any form of offensive weaponry associated with this acquisition. We are talking about the acquisition of these transport planes, which will be equipped with defensive suites and these kinds of things. But it's a capability that we need for our expeditionary operations.
You asked about the amount of money involved. Obviously I'm sure that Boeing is going to give us exceedingly cheaper and cheaper prices on these planes as the negotiations proceed, so I don't want to get into the nations themselves have been thinking about as their bottom line. That'll be up to the nations to decide. But we certainly have been working with Boeing to ensure that the NATO nations are able to procure these planes on the same basis that we see other nations, like the Canadians and the United Kingdom and the Australians moving forward.
Our need is significant. As the Secretary General mentioned, strategic airlift is a pressing and recurring shortfall for the Alliance . And that shortfall engenders other shortfalls because the more difficult it is to move troops and equipment and to sustain them, the more difficult it is to get such troops and equipment volunteered for the necessary missions. So we need this shortfall filled as rapidly as possible.
Accordingly, we do hope that if we are able to come to an agreement with Boeing, that we would be able to see the delivery of the first of the aircraft sometime next year. My hope would be sooner rather than later, but we obviously will have to work with the United States and with Boeing in the production line to get early delivery.
We would like to see an initial operating capability, in fact, next year. With a full operational capability to be achieved once the delivery of three to four of the aircraft. I think we are talking about three to four of these initially, once full deliver of those planes, and full training of the pilots has been accomplished.
I can also mention, as I raise it, then the pilots, the intention of the nations is to create a standing international or multinational military structure, very similar to what you have with the AWACS Force Command air crews. They intend, at this stage, they are in negotiations with the United States and Germany to base the C-17s and to put the international military structure at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany . And this international military structure will not only include the basic command and control functions for the fleet, but will also include the pilots, loadmasters, mechanics from all of the different participating nations.
And the United States has been very helpful as a key member of this initiative in ensuring that these pilots and loadmasters and the air crews will be trained to the very same standards for air-to-air refuelling and air-to-ground operations and even night visions operations as the U.S. Air Force and the U.K. have.
So we are very pleased with that offer by the United States to help get the NATO pilots, the future NATO pilots into the U.S. Air Force schoolhouses, to get them trained up and ready to fly these planes.
Q: Nick Fiorenza, Jane's Defence Weekly and I also write for a magazine called Military (inaudible) International on this.
BILLINGSLEA: I read them both.
Q: The first question is, our Partnership for Peace countries, is this open to Partnership for Peace countries? I'm thinking particularly of the Swedes who are looking at improving their strategic airlift capacity. I know that Boeing even has kept... is talking about having some (inaudible)...to accommodate the Swedes.
And then the... let's see, the... will Ramstein be the only base you're looking at, or is there a possibility of it being based somewhere else?
And third, when this was in the planning stages a couple of months ago at least, some of us where told by a diplomat that this could be a model for other arrangements like this and is there a possibility somewhere down the road that maybe the A400M would be included in this ring of negotiations (inaudible)...?
BILLINGSLEA: Thanks for those questions. Now, the composition of the initiative, as it stands today, and what I stress is that today you see, with the release of the Letter of Intent publicly, the full-up launch of the contract negotiations with Boeing.
I have every reason to believe that those contract negotiations will move swiftly and successfully to yield a positive result, and I think the Secretary General indicated a positive result to be in hand by Riga , by the summit at the end of November.
But you never know. And...
UNIDENTIFIED: Nope (inaudible)...
BILLINGSLEA: And we need to make sure that people understand this is not a signature of a contract today. This is a launching of the actual negotiations.
In terms of the membership in the... and I need to stress, this is called the NATO Strategic Airlift Capability. The NSAC as they're calling it. The membership is going to be decided by those who are already in the club. And so that is really up to the 13 nations who have issued the LOI together.
That said, I have certainly, from where I sit as the NATO Assistant Secretary General, encouraged them to be open to the participation of a broader range of closely affiliated nations, nations that do business with NATO, that are in the EU, so on and so forth. I don't want to get into specific countries because that's really going to be up to those nations themselves to decide if they want to be part of this.
But every instance at which I've raised the need to be open to additional membership by EU nations I've had a very receptive response from the NATO countries. So I feel good about that.
There's a lot of different ways to participate. You can either be a full-up member, or you can simply come up with a way to acquire some flying hours on the planes. There is the ability of these nations to fly these missions for other nations that need the assistance, and we could easily imagine situations where that could be the case.
Last year alone, thing about all of the big humanitarian relief operations that needed to be conducted in the wake of tsunamis or earthquakes and what have you.
So there is a pressing need for this airlift that goes, as the Secretary General mentioned, well beyond just NATO. There's an EU need, a UN need, and there is a sovereign national need that these countries have.
Basing: we'll have to see how the United States and Germany pursue this together. But at the moment I believe that Ramstein is really going to be the main operating base for the NATO capability.
Obviously where they choose to do all of the maintenance that you have to do every three or four months, is going to be something that we will need to talk with Boeing about. Because we're going to want to probably have the cheapest, most cost effective solution there as we possibly can.
You ask, is this a model for other kinds of arrangements, and I think from the NATO standpoint our answer is absolutely yes. This is exactly the right way to pursue capabilities, to bring nations together and to use the NATO mechanisms for nations to team up, as the Secretary General mentioned. The idea that you could get 13 nations who maybe by themselves would not have the financial resources to go ahead and acquire a fleet of C-17s, able to team up and create a capability together, that's exactly what NATO's about.
And that is a very, very good model for many different kinds of defence cooperation. And by the way, it's not a new model. This is what they did with the AWACS fleet, which has 13 nations, created some 20-odd years ago. It is what they've done with even as few as three nations, with the NATO MEADS program, the follow-on system to the Patriot air defence and theatre missile defence capability.
So NATO has a long track record of being able to create these capabilities at the level of 3, 5, 10, 13, sometimes even 26 nations, but it's good that we don't have to have all 26 nations to say yes to these kinds of initiatives. It's good that we can do things in smaller groups when we need to.
We are open, obviously, to adding additional kinds of airframes to the NATO Strategic Airlift Capability mix of aircraft. We are certainly not wedded to, with all due respect, we're not wedded to any one particular solution. As you know my division's been involved with developing the Antonov An-124 lease that resulted in the SALIS arrangement and now we've been involved in the C-17 initiative, and so we will certainly explore what options additional kinds of aircraft can give us, what capabilities they have to offer, if and when such aircraft exist.
So I think we just need to wait and see what happens in this very dynamic and ever-changing world of aviation. And it'll ultimately be the decisions of the nations themselves inside this consortium as to what additional plans, if any, they want to buy.
Q: I'm Takaguchi(?) from the Japanese (inaudible)... I would like to know the implication of this initiative in other theatres, other than NATO. Will it be a prototype of the future cooperations in other regions similar to this, or do you think rather inclusive, as you mentioned, there are lots of type of (inaudible)... My question is either inclusive, or is this prototype initiative in other regions?
I would also like to ask the same question to friends from Boeing.
BILLINGSLEA: Well, I think that there is no... there is nothing that is... the logic of what the 13 nations have done by teaming up is not a logic that is exclusive to Europe or North America . The concept of being able to team up with friendly or allied nations to pursue a joint capability is a model that is applicable in every region of the world. It just happens that in between Europe and North America across the Atlantic there is a very tight bond and there is this Alliance of NATO that facilitates this kind of cooperation. Maybe to a degree that you may or may not have in other parts of the world.
But certainly with respect to this geographic region there is, I have noticed, a great deal of openness and a desire to be inclusive of need. We've talked a great deal about the fact that these planes are going to fly, not for NATO, they're going to fly for the individual nations that are part of this initiative, and that could mean for NATO, it could mean for the EU, it could mean for the UN, it could mean for any number of circumstances.
So implicit in that then is really a maximum degree of flexibility over how these planes can be used. I think they wanted a response for you on your thought.
UNIDENTIFIED: Well clearly we've been marketing C-17s into the Pacific region. Recently, as you know, or may not know, not sure, we've completed a deal with the Australians for four C-17s. At the same time we've been in to Japan on numerous occasions to talk with them about the possibility of a couple of C-17s as well.
I think Mr. Billingslea's point, geographically, you know, Europe is a little bit closer and probably makes it a little easier to acquire airplanes jointly and base them in a single place to cover the needs of the countries here. It may be a bit more difficult to put that kind of a consortium together in the Pacific Rim given the geographics, you know, just between Australia and Japan alone is what, about nine hours, I think flying time, or thereabouts.
So it may make it difficult, but certainly not out of reach. If there's something that we could do in that area from a consortium standpoint we'd certainly be open to exploring it.
BILLINGSLEA: Yes please.
Q: (inaudible)...News Agency of Ukraine. Maybe(?) I need some additional (inaudible)... so let me ask my question. My question is, why Boeing? So was there any open tender announced and why Boeing was chosen, not any other(?) producer. And another part of the question (inaudible)..., after the project will be finalized does mean that NATO cooperation with these other partners, (inaudible)... for example, will be reduced?
BILLINGSLEA: Good question and let me clarify. This was not one of these things where NATO suddenly went sole-source to one particular company. This decision today, the announcement today and the release of the LOI today in fact is the result of more than a year of analysis conducted into the economics and the capabilities associated with long range air-to-air refuelable outsize cargo lift.
In other words, when you are looking at that class of aircraft we came to the conclusion that there are three different airframes in existence today which are in that class. One of them airframes if the Antonov 124, which a number of nations operate, and which are also available for leasing and contracting on the commercial market.
The C-17 aircraft is another one that's in that class, which is not available today, to my knowledge, for commercial lease. Only for acquisition. And then the C-5 aircraft is the grandfather of outsize cargo strategic lift and that is certainly another aircraft that we know is in the class.
But there are no other aircraft in existence today with those kinds of specifications.
Now as you may know, NATO has been focusing on the shortfall associated with strategic lift for some time, and NATO, in fact, moved forward to cement a deal with one of those aircraft, the Antonov 124 already. So we have over the past several years, resulting in an actual lease arrangement with the SALIS initiative a standing flying hour contract with Antonovs for 2000 flying hours and several nations in that.
So you have already NATO and several of those nations working with the Antonov. The C-5 was a plane that we looked at, but decided, for a number of reasons, to turn our attention instead to the C-17, because that was the only other available lifter in this class, and you see now today NATO moving forward to start the negotiations for an arrangement on the C-17.
So the way you need to look at this is that NATO is, in fact, already trying to diversify the different kinds of air lifters that we have. We've got the Antonovs. Now we would like to get an additional kind of airframe. And this gets back to Nick's question, that is why you should precisely expect that we're going to be open to further airframes when additional kinds of lifters are fielded by different companies.
This initiative today, to create the NATO Strategic Airlift Capability in no way says anything about the SALIS arrangement. It certainly does not prejudge any aspect of that arrangement. We need those flying hours on the Antonovs and we continue to expect that the nations are going to use those flying hours and many NATO allies are big, big consumers of Antonov flying hours for military missions.
So there is, even with this acquisition, there is more demand than there is supply on the market.
Q: Yeah, I've got a couple of questions (inaudible)... Will... assuming this whole LOI thing goes forward, would the individual nations have access to the new C-17 aircraft based on their contribution, i.e. I'm Lithuania, and I can only contribute $2 million, that only gives me one and a half hours flying time... Could you clarify that?
Questions for the industry folks. Obviously you've been in touch with all 13 people, so you've been sussing out what their industrial benefits needs are. One question, how many of the 13 are seeking offsets? Well I guess the United States (inaudible)... maybe it is. And secondly, I see Slovenia , Bulgaria , Estonia , Latvia , Lithuania , they don't have much of an aircraft industry. If you've done your homework you've already been discussing (inaudible)... on a preliminary basis what their offset needs are (inaudible)...industrial benefits could be. So I don't see any of those countries in direct aircraft industry (inaudible). Could you clarify that?
Let me take a swing at both those and you take a shot at one of them.
UNIDENTIFIED: All right.
BILLINGSLEA: The way this is being structured is that the individual nations, the 13 nations, have built up, through their own internal calculations that have happened back in their capitals, they have built up an estimation of how many flying hours they will need on these aircraft, and the sum total of those calculations resulted in a fairly high number of flying hours needed. And it was high enough, in fact, to suggest that we could probably use close to three full-time C-17s at this stage. And what we've seen, in terms of the progression of those internal flying hour requirements is a fairly steady increase.
Indeed, we have several nations that are already interested in investing in this capability for several hundred flying hours, here, there, who have told us that in fact, their true requirement greatly exceeds the amount that they actually have money to pay for.
Welcome to the real world. You always have more than you can afford in terms of your needs.
So we think that the level of investment in this initiative on the part of the 13 nations, as well as the number of nations involved, is going to increase. So we look forward to seeing an evolution of that from the NATO side, with the nations over the next few months.
Q: But the access principle would be I, Lithuania have $5 million in, that gives me...
BILLINGSLEA: X number of hours.
Q: ...X number of hours.
BILLINGSLEA: To finish my point, I would say that, in fact, even today a nation announced a significant increase in the number of flying hours it wants. So nations are looking at the operations they have to conduct. They're looking at the uncertain world in which we live and they are making some very prudent calculations about the need to be able to move anywhere on this globe in a rapid fashion the kinds of equipment that we find we now have to deploy to places like Afghanistan.
I will also say that nations are not investing in trivial numbers of hours, so there is no member of this initiative who would not, with tier timeshare, be able to make multiple trips to Afghanistan . So they are all investing in more than tens and twenties of flying hours on these planes. Every single one of them. Even the smallest NATO ally is making a fairly important investment in that sense. And the bigger allies, of course, it scales up.
Offsets are something that I'm not prepared to discuss about because that will be, probably a private matter that is handled between the NAMSA negotiators, the NATO NAMSA negotiators and the nations themselves and then Boeing on the other hand.
But having got that on the record I'll turn it over to Boeing for their thought.
UNIDENTIFIED: Thanks. Let's see, your question about maybe us having talked to all 13 countries is not quite accurate. It might be a nice presumption, but frankly we've looked at countries that we thought would probably have the wherewithal to actually acquire C-17s, so from a defence budget standpoint we've probably focused certainly in the Netherlands and Italy with regards to C-17s and as well some of the other larger participants like Denmark and... I'm trying to remember who else was jumping in there.
But to your question with regards to offsets, you know, we have a pretty long and storied(?) history in most of these countries, with some of our other Boeing products with regards to offset and we have a significant commitment to achieve those offsets when we do sell products internationally.
Now with regards to C-17 it's pretty well spoken for, as you can imagine. I mean, it's a pretty mature airplane and has been built now for about the last 15 years, so there isn't a lot of what I'll say direct offset available on C-17.
So the Boeing Corporation will have to look at its other products across its military base as well as its commercial base to satisfy offset requirements. And as Mr. Billingslea said, these will be topics of discussion when we get into negotiations with NAMSA.
Q: (inaudible)... all 13 (inaudible)...
UNIDENTIFIED: I haven't heard that yet. I can't say that they're not. I just haven't really heard that at this point.
Q: (inaudible)...highly unusual for (inaudible)...
UNIDENTIFIED: I understand.
Q: (inaudible)... those given countries (inaudible)...
UNIDENTIFIED: No, I agree, I agree.
Q: Thank you.
Q: One question I was going to ask, but I think you've... it's not... maybe it's been answered. What capability... is this (inaudible)...going to solve the airlift gap, or are you going to need further arrangements like this to actually hopefully build up that capacity again? And then second, how important was the fact that the C-17 has defensive aids, as opposed to the Antonov, which does not? How important was that in the final (inaudible)...?
BILLINGSLEA: Well again, you know, we're very comfortable and very positive and very intent on pursuing use of the existing lease arrangement we have with the Antonovs. So I would not say that defensive aid suites, in and of themselves, are any kind of make or break issue.
The defensive aid suite, or the availability of protection against these shoulder-fired missiles is a big issue. That said, especially because we see world-wide proliferation of these kinds of missiles and we see their presence in the kinds of... in the hands of terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Iraq . And so when you don't have a defensive aid suite with your plane that simply means that you need to do different kinds of calculations and different sets of rules on operation that may or may not limit where you can fly that plane into.
We think that with the defensive aid suite that comes with this package that we're interested in pursuing we'll have maximum latitude in our ability to use these airlifters into all parts of Afghanistan , for instance. That said, you also have the ability to land at some of the unimproved runways and some of the runways that NATO is actually today working to repave with several of the PRTs in the west and the south, where you probably wouldn't, in fact, be able to get an Antonov aircraft in and out of that airstrip anyway.
But we would imagine that the Antonov will continue to be used for critical resupply missions to the extent that its contract, which limits it to humanitarian operations allows for that.
On the capability gap, does this permanently and does this close the capability gap, I think the answer is no, it doesn't. But that is a gap that I would suspect is going to be impossible to ever fully close. It will certainly go a long way towards providing a much-needed capability and it will satisfy many of the shortfalls that we currently face.
But I do anticipate that nations will need to continue to move their equipment by a variety of means, and of course, airlift in and of itself is only one option and is always the more expensive option than even things like sealift.
So you make do with what you got and it's a very exciting story that the nations are actually getting more to make do with.
Q: Let me ask you a question. I know you won't answer it, but I (inaudible)...ask it anyway. It seems to me that A400M and group of countries and investors and out here in NATO, once again, and this is a question I raise often at conferences like this, are we not looking at a competition for (inaudible) on allies who belong to both the EU and NATO? Or if that can be reconciled, if they do find the money to go ahead with A400M doesn't this call for a lot more communication between NATO and the EU to make sure all their equipment is compatible, communications, etc.? It's a good question (inaudible)...
BILLINGSLEA: Well, I'm not the world's expert on airlift, and I can't tell you today that I'm fully aware of all the problematic details surrounding the A400M, but what I do know is, in fact, that a substantial number of NATO nations have undertaken to acquire those aircraft. And so it's not simply an issue of dealing with the EU, but as a matter of fact this is an aircraft that will, in the future, be in the inventory of NATO allies, alongside the other aircraft that they own.
So that is a... these kind of interoperability and logistic support questions and all of these things, these are absolutely the right kinds of questions, but they, I have to tell you Brooks, they're probably better directed to the logistics experts within the nations, within the capitals who need to plan on how to absorb these aircraft into the inventories.
But certainly from our standpoint we are very interested in following the evolution of the A400M and as I've said several times today, the door to additional kinds of aircraft being introduced into this fleet is wide open. But you gotta start somewhere and we're starting with the C-17s today.
I can do maybe one more and then... What I'd like to also invite you to do, you have several of the key national negotiators here, for the nations, and they're all form the 13 nations and we've got almost all of them here, so certainly the reporters, I would invite you to talk with them to get a national take, to get the... you may even be able to get some of them to give you a quote or two from their Minister or whomever, because this program, of course, has been discussed, developed and approved at the very highest levels in all of these governments. So it's something that's got quite a bit of political attention.Anything else? Is that good for starters, yeah? Why don't we break up and then the national negotiators, I'd like to invite the national teams up here so that the reporters...