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The Air Force tanker drama continues...

The ongoing saga between Northrop Grumman/EADS, Boeing, the Air Force, Congress, and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) continues to languish on in the face of an aging tanker fleet. Northrop Grumman/EADS formally won the contract earlier this year -- the $35B contract would have given the Air Force 179 Airbus A330-based KC-45 aircraft to replace 531 KC-135 tankers.

Boeing filed an official protest of the deal with the GAO in early March and received redemption in mid-June when the GAO agreed that errors were made during the selection process. "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," said the GAO at the time.

It now appears that Boeing isn't quite satisfied with just having the competition reopened -- according to the Wall Street Journal, it now wants more time to design a suitable aircraft to meet the Air Force's needs or it is threatening to walk away from the competition altogether. Boeing now wants an additional six months to submit a proper bid that the Air Force would be willing to accept.

"I think the option we would have if we were not given the six months, there is a really high likelihood that we would no-bid the program," said Boeing defense unit head Jim Albaugh.

The Defense Department is already considering giving both Northrop Grumman/EADS and Boeing two additional months to submit new bids for the competition according to close sources, but Boeing's Albaugh said that is not enough. "This is an airplane that's going to be in the inventory 40 years. What we're asking for is an additional four months to have a meaningful competition."

For Boeing, the request for more time and the threat of a "no-bid" is somewhat of a payback to Northrop Grumman/EADS which performed a similar feat back in 2007. The maneuvering by Northrop Grumman/EADS forced the Air Force to make some changes to the requirements for the competition that put Boeing's entry at a disadvantage.

Boeing's current proposal is based around a 767-200 airframe -- it is simply too small and doesn't meet the fuel capacity requirements of the Air Force. Albaugh acknowledges that without the extra time to bid a larger version of the 767-200, it will lose the contract.

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By fishbits on 8/22/2008 11:59:54 AM , Rating: 0
Boeing is upset that its aircraft it says is unsuitable didn't win the bid? Then after losing the bid, demands to be able to place a bid again, or threatens to not bid?

Even then, if the goalposts are successfully moved, someone will lose the competition. Which means yet another extentsion and re-compete will be requested... yikes! Ah well, at least no one from Boeing went to jail for ethical breaches this time, so that's an improvement.

RE: Murky
By GGT on 8/22/2008 2:27:50 PM , Rating: 3
The bid requirements have been changed and that is why Boeing now recognizes the problem. Allow me to provide an example. You be Boeing and I'll be the Air Force... No. Better yet, you be EADS (since you seem to prefer them) and I'll be Air Force.

[All numbers are artificial to protect the niave]

A/F: I need a new tanker that flies 6000 NM and can offload 65 K of fuel on a round trip mission.
EADS: Ok, here you go.
A/F: You lose. We've decided we need a tanker that flies 3000 NM and can offload 83 K of fuel on a round trip mission. Sorry we forgot to tell you. Neener, neener.

I hope this helps.

RE: Murky
By rudolphna on 8/22/2008 10:28:09 PM , Rating: 2
its not unsuitable. It was just thought that the other was superior. Big difference between unsuitable and not-as-good. (cant think of the word atm :) )

RE: Murky
By mmatis on 8/23/2008 7:21:04 AM , Rating: 2
Except that the other was not "superior" per the AF SOW. Check the GAO report, if you can be bothered to do so. GGT spelled it out. That's ILLEGAL. Slightly similar to what got Dryun jail time, and rousted out a bunch of Boeing high rollers. On a previous effort at this same contract. But then maybe by now the Air Force thinks that whatever McCain wants is good enough for them.

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