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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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RE: This is getting ridiculous...
By Connoisseur on 8/22/2008 12:11:09 PM , Rating: 2
Agree wholeheartedly. Sometimes I think, as a culture, we're so caught up in the "bigger, faster, cheaper" mentality that we don't care where our goods come from at the expense of local jobs, local economy and (potentially) security. Unless the Boeing submission is grossly inadequate or delayed as compared to the EADS submission, the bid should go to an American company. Not to say that competition is bad, but I think we should lean in favor of local manufacturers whenever it's close.

This is all contingent on the assumption that boeing's labor force is primarily American. If they outsource most of their work anyway, it's a moot point WHO gets the bid.

RE: This is getting ridiculous...
By Moohbear on 8/22/2008 12:24:28 PM , Rating: 1
Of course, the US armed forces should buy only 100% US made equipment. And of course, other countries should buy only armament from the US instead of indigenous ones and certainly not from any other foreign competitors, like Russia, Europe or China. Or not buy/build anything of they're "evil".

Protectionist much?

RE: This is getting ridiculous...
By MrBlastman on 8/22/2008 12:33:52 PM , Rating: 2
It would be shortsighted to believe that Russian technology is inferior.

On the contrary.

Russian Military Technology is quite brilliant might I add. The simplicity of some of their systems allow the complexity of a few of their systems to create a very robust piece of machinery.

Take a look at the SU-25T for instance. Simplistic aircraft but a very effective military machine when coupled with some of their weapon technology.

Take a look at the AA-11 Archer air-to-air heat seeking missile. Its off-aspect seeker technology coupled with the missile package as a whole is _vastly_ superior to anything America has in its AAM Heat Seeking Arsenal including the AIM-9X Sidewinder.

The Archer is a deadly piece of equipment that should be feared.

Their Long-Range radar guided Air-to-Air missile tech even threatens the venerable Aim-120 AMRAAM which is a staple munition on our fighter aircraft.

What about the Ka-50 Black Shark attack helocopter? With its latest upgrade plus its counter-rotating blades present the west (and the remainder of the world) with a very formiddable attack helocopter. Coupled with Air-To-Ground radar and it becomes quite effective.

That isn't even going into the thrust-vectoring capabilities of the Su-37 (which are mitigated to some degree by the RCS of the F-22).

I haven't even mentioned the Mi-24 hind, the most widely exported attack helocopter that is used around the world and the one that has participated in the largest number of military conflicts.

No - the Russians do indeed have amazing hardware. In some cases it exceeds the United States technology. Interestingly enough, a large amount of it is manufactured by... Russia alone by Russians for Russians.

RE: This is getting ridiculous...
By DASQ on 8/22/2008 12:41:04 PM , Rating: 3
You're right, the Russians do have some nice toys. And good thing they were able to keep their economy in good shape while they were busy making these technologies.

Oh wait.

RE: This is getting ridiculous...
By saiga6360 on 8/22/2008 3:25:27 PM , Rating: 2
Russia is getting fat on oil just fine without much American help. Why do you think we are still scared of them?

RE: This is getting ridiculous...
By DASQ on 8/22/2008 12:39:34 PM , Rating: 2
By 'bigger, faster, cheaper' he really means "trying to keep afloat in the world economy that is reducing reliance on the American consumerism".

Neither of the bidders are building an 'All American' contract. This is not World War 2. Get into the present already. American companies thinking like you (and your root reply) are the ones going to tank (ba-dum TSH!) first.

By MrBlastman on 8/22/2008 12:55:42 PM , Rating: 2
Please note I only mentioned the Military.

I also mentioned I'm perfectly ok with foreign collaboration on everything else. In fact, foreign collaboration is neccesary on everything else.

I realize neither are building an 'All American' contract, but, it doesn't hurt to keep the planning and design within America. In the end, if we had to, we could produce the parts needed to sustain the aircraft far easier this way than if the design was from foreign soil.

RE: This is getting ridiculous...
By ElFenix on 8/23/2008 1:22:39 PM , Rating: 3
in WW2 our best fighter had an english engine. the P-51 Mustange was not THE P-51 Mustang until it got the Merlin.

RE: This is getting ridiculous...
By Calin on 8/24/2008 3:43:57 AM , Rating: 2
Northrop-Grumman -EADS ?
The Northrop-Grumman (and EADS) tanker will be built on an american production line, raised from ground up. As such, not much more (if any) of the new Boeing tanker would be built in U S of A than the EADS one.

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