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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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This is rediculous
By Redfoot on 8/22/2008 9:04:41 PM , Rating: 2
First off I am a US Air Force member and and American.

EADS has the better product, period. Boeing cried foul because another company was awarded a contract for a superior product than they could deliver.

For the record, FN Belguim makes the M249 SAW, the M-16-A4 and M-240B LMG (and I now think some of the M-4's). Sig Sauer makes the M-11 pistol. These are superior products that our military uses. Anyone heard of the Harrier VTOL? A similar case came up when SOCOM forces used HK's version of the M-4 which is piston driven, and considered much more reliable than Colt's M-4. Now some representative cried foul about a loss of DOD money to a foreign outfit, and these weapons are being re-collected, even though they are the current best solution.

I want myself and my brothers and sisters to have access to the best tools for the job. If American companies want DOD money, then maybe they should be striving to exceed specifications from the get go, rather than simply meeting them, and the whining when a better product is chosen by the DoD that just happens to be made by a foreign supplier. If it were Lockheed Martin winning the contract instead of Boeing, this would be a non-issue.

Our tankers are old as heck. We need a new solution yesterday, and this is not helping!




RE: This is rediculous
By Pudro on 8/23/2008 11:16:32 PM , Rating: 1
I like how you state that you are a "US Air Force member and and American" like that helps your argument. All it says to me is that you are coming at this from a biased uninformed angle. (I don't mean that you are those things, but rather that you lead with declaring those things.)

As a fellow American I am ashamed that people like you run around representing my country so poorly. If you want to better represent your country, then learn the facts on this issue before commenting. If you want to better represent the USAF, then man-up and admit that they are the ones who screwed this all up.


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