Tanker Decision (Again) Due Today

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Several sources say the Pentagon will announce its way forward on the KC-X tanker contract [today].

The last I heard from sources close to the issue was that John Young, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, wanted to go with a fly off. Boeing and Northrop Grumman would have to build and fly one or more test models. Whoever best met the requirements and demonstrated capability would win the contract. Given that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has made it pretty clear that he is uncomfortable relying on Youngs office about the tanker deal after all, Young signed off on and then defended the Air Force choice there seems to be a good chance that the fly off idea will be stillborn.

With [Wednesday's] announcement Gates may be trying to get ahead of any congressional steamroller on this one, since the House Armed Services air and land forces subcommittee has its tanker hearing scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Several lawmakers close to Boeing have clearly signaled they expect the Pentagon to rebid the contract. One argument they offer is that Boeing is likely to sue the Pentagon unless the bidding is reopened and Boeing would use information in the GAO report as evidence. That would be perhaps the worst outcome, delaying any decision for years as things ground through the legal system and positions hardened.

Read the rest of this story, and more exclusive coverage of the Tanker Tango, at DoD Buzz.

-- Colin Clark

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