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More Tanker News About to Pop

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We're covering the Pentagon presser today at 3pm on the new tanker RFP. Here's a bit of what Colin has reported over at DoD Buzz.

A few items of interest, for perspective. former Air Force Secretary Mike Wynne and I spoke recently about the options the Pentagon has. They are very few if John Young, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, stuck with what he said he would stick with. First, the requirements would not change. So the Northrop Grumman team would seem to come out ahead on this score since all the OSD and Air Force personnel who have talked about this agree that Northrop does the best job overall of meeting or exceeding the requirements..

Second, Wynne agreed that since Young made clear a dual buy would just be too expensive that also tips things in Northrops favor. Young said several times after the GAO ruling that buying tankers from both companies would add substantial costs, costs the Pentagon was not willing to shoulder.

Still, Wynne professed to like the idea of a dual buy. But I think thats because he believes Boeing couldnt get enough planes in the air and certified quickly enough and believes it would, in the long run, just strengthen Northrops position.

Finally, while it may not be factual, the swagger of senior EADS personnel before and during the Farnborough Air Show was palpable. They have little doubt they will not lose to Boeing, amended RFP or not. Boeing personnel, on the other hand, were clearly on the defensive during Farnborough. More after the briefing.

We did just receive a note from the office of Rep. Norm Dicks who's already crying foul about the new RFP...

Note that there is an obvious change inserted into the System Requirements Document in the revised tanker RFP that clearly favors the larger aircraft even though it is not necessarily connected to any real-world use of tanker. The original RFP said no extra credit beyond threshold requirement, which both planes had met and exceeded in the first competition. New RFP says there is value in exceeding. Is this a competition for a KC-10 replacement or a KC-135 replacement?

So, the Air Force shouldn't get what it wants, right Mr. Dicks? Seems to me if they're asking for more fuel capability then they should be able to buy the tanker that gives it to them. Boeing asked for this rebid, they've gotten it, and now its backers are already complaining that it's unfair?

Is there anyone out there that believes this will be a "fair" process anymore?

Stay tuned here, to DoD Buzz and to Military.com for further updates.

-- Christian

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