Draft Tanker RFP Slips Into Fall

This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.

A draft request for proposals (RFP) that will kick off the U.S. Air Force's next attempt to procure a KC-135 aerial refueling tanker replacement could come out later than expected.

"This may go into the fall because we want to make certain we get this right," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said at a press briefing there July 15. Defense Department officials had hoped earlier to release the draft RFP this month and award a contract early next year.

Morrell declined to comment on the specifics of discussions about what should be included in the RFP.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates also has not made a decision yet on which office in the Pentagon -- the Air Force that will use the tankers or his own under secretary of defense for acquisition -- will directly oversee the competition. Morrell says that decision will likely be released at the same time as the forthcoming draft RFP.

The so-called KC-X program has had multiple false starts. Boeing was originally expecting a lease of 767-based refuelers from the Air Force, but that was dashed amid admissions from former procurement official Darleen Druyun that contracts were unfairly steered to the company. Additionally, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) investigated the deal and found it to be grossly overpriced.

A competition between Boeing 767 and Northrop Grumman/EADS North America A330 designs went to the Northrop team, but was quashed amid a protest from Boeing. The Government Accountability Office found errors in the procurement process that led to the decision.

Read the rest of this story, see how the Brits are dealing with rotary woes, get a first look at the Army's modernization plan and check out what those crazy Canucks are up to from our friends at aviation week, exclusively on Military.com.

-- Christian

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