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  (Source: Northrop Grumman)

Northrop Grumman/EADS KC-45A tanker  (Source: Northrop Grumman)
Boeing wins the battle, but the war continues with the controversial Air Force tanker program.

It looks like the ongoing battle between Northrop Grumman/EADS and Boeing over the $35B Air Force tanker contract will go on for at least another year. Northrop Grumman/EADS won the KC-X tanker competition earlier this year and it was announced that the Airbus A330-based KC-45 would replace the Air Force's existing fleet of 531 KC-135 tanker aircraft.

With foreign hands having a part in the design and construction of the KC-45, some in Congress weren't too happy with the move. "We should have an American tanker built by an American company with American workers. I can't believe we would create French [and British] jobs in place of Kansas jobs," said Todd Tiahrt, a congressman from Kansas.

Boeing filed a formal protest against the Air Force's decision with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in March. Boeing contended that it deserved the contract due to numerous errors and concessions made during the competition and noted that it provided "75 years of unmatched experience building tankers" and "offered the Air Force the best value and lowest risk tanker for its mission".

It looks as though Boeing has quite a bit of pull in Washington, because the GAO sided with Boeing’s protest. "Our review of the record led us to conclude that the Air Force had made a number of significant errors that could have affected the outcome of what was a close competition," said the GAO in a statement.

"We recommended that the Air Force reopen discussions ... obtain revised proposals, re-evaluate the revised proposals, and make a new source selection decision, consistent with our decision," the GAO continued.

Further stacking future proceedings in Boeing's favor, the GAO reported that the Air Force performed "unreasonable" cost/performance analysis with regards to the Northrop Grumman/EADS entry versus Boeing's competing entry. Had those errors not have been made; the GAO concluded that Boeing would have been the low-cost champion of the competition, and likely the overall winner.

The Air Force will in essence have to start the competition all over again to satisfy the GAO's requests – in the mean time; the aging KC-135 fleet will still take to the skies. "In theory, the air force has 60 days to answer. But in reality, it's obvious they're going to have to start over," said Lexington Institute military analyst Loren Thompson.

EADS, as expected, wasn't exactly elated with the GAO's decision. "Though we are disappointed, it's important to recognize that the GAO announcement is an evaluation of the selection process, not the merits of the aircraft," said EADA spokesman Louis Gallois.

"We will support our partner Northrop and remain confident that the KC-45 is the aircraft best suited to make the Air Force's critical mission requirements, as demonstrated by four previous competitive selections."

Not surprisingly, Boeing is ecstatic about the ruling. "We welcome and support today's ruling by the GAO fully sustaining the grounds of our protest," said Boeing tanker group VP Mark McGraw. "We look forward to working with the Air Force on next steps in this critical procurement for our warfighters."

Supporters of Boeing's protest in Congress also welcomed the GAO's decision. "The GAO's decision in the tanker protest reveals serious errors in the Air Force's handling of this critically important competition. We now need not only a new full, fair and open competition in compliance with the GAO recommendations, but also a thorough review of -- and accountability for -- the process that produced such a flawed result," said Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan).

"The GAO did its work, and the Air Force is going to have to go back and do its work more thoroughly," added Representative Ike Skelton (D-Missouri).

You can read the GAO's full report including seven areas in which it found the Air Force's decision to be flawed here.

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RE: That's not quite how it works...
By winterspan on 6/20/2008 3:21:10 AM , Rating: -1
You are such a fucking uneducated moron, it's not even really worth my time to comment.

As far as your ridiculously ignorant perspective and seeming completely lack of education and knowledge, I can only hope that someday you are able to understand the

Is it really that difficult to understand?
Marx/Lenin/communism/China = radical left

Barack Obama = moderate democrat and populist.
Grew up in a middle-class home, worked as a community organizer and civil rights attorney after graduating from Harvard.

And yes, I'm sure Obama will "completely destroy" the military just as he has been doing in congress by voting to boost veteran healthcare spending and retirement benefits, spending more on safety equipment and new technology, giving soldiers more rest time between deployments, etc, etc. And I'm sure finally pulling troops out of Iraq will "destroy" the military as well.

John McCain = moderate republican.
Served in military, supporter of Iraq War. Used to be considered a "maverick", but has since given up all his principles in pursuit of getting elected. His campaign and "inner circle" is made up of big business lobbyists and he has a personal history of doing favors for campaign donors and special interests. Used to stand against prejudice and bigotry, but now panders to the very same far right and religious fundamentalists that he used to slam in public.

George Bush = conservative republican / neo-conservative (AKA moron)
And certainly your favorite president has done such a great job with our military by cutting veteran benefits, healthcare, VA spending, etc, not to mention starting a useless war that has killed over 4,000 soldiers and injured 30,000. Not only that, but by overextending the military and taking the focus off of Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan, where the real fight is, he has let the Taliban and Al-Qaeda grow much stronger than they were in years past. This will no doubt lead to much more war in Afghanistan, and many more lives will be lost because of his stupidity, not to mention more future terrorist attacks.

As far as military spending for building more warplanes, carriers, weapons, and maintaining huge military bases around the world, it NEEDS TO BE CUT. It has been an enormous waste of hundreds of billions a year, meanwhile budgets in areas such as public education, college tuition grants, the national science foundation and other scientific research, medicare/medi-caid, assistance to the poor, etc has been repeatedly cut. We spend almost 50% of ALL THE DEFENSE SPENDING IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, and that has to be changed.

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh

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