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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 Screwballl on 8/23/2008 11:09:28 AM , Rating: 2
This is something that affects me locally... we have Eglin AFB, Tyndall, Pensacola NAS (in Florida) and Mobile, AL within range that will be dealing with much of the work as long as EADS gets the bid. There are a lot of civilian and military contractors here, and each one of them that were familiar with this situation stated pretty much that same thing:
Boeing cannot come up with a qualifying product without severely going over the proposed budget AND outsourcing a majority of the work outside of the US. Boeing submitted a design that was based on the bare requirements only. EADS chose to go above and beyond and submitted a better design and won the contract. The original contract was awarded properly but this is just a case of Boeing being a big baby and delaying the inevitable.

Let Boeing handle the commercial sector and EADS/Northrup/Grumman to the military. The military can award a bid for only one bidder if there have been previous bids that did not meet the current requirements, such as in this case. They gave Boeing several months and if they cannot comply or come up with a design within the requirements, then they lose the bid, even with a "no-bid".

In this case, oiling the squeaky wheel will not help, the tire is flat.

RE: This is getting ridiculous...
By Solandri on 8/24/2008 12:35:22 PM , Rating: 2
The original contract was awarded properly but this is just a case of Boeing being a big baby and delaying the inevitable.

Of all the government branches, the GAO has been the most reliable and unbiased in my experience. If they say something was done properly or improperly, they're usually right.

Let Boeing handle the commercial sector and EADS/Northrup/Grumman to the military.

Boeing is usually the Department of Defense's #2 contractor in terms of dollars awarded (Northrop-Grumman is usually #3).

I do appreciate that you gave disclaimers for your stance. If I do the same: I have no connection to any of this. I interned for Lockheed while in undergraduate school, and I did some contract work on simulators for the USAF at a previous job.

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