UPDATED: Boeing Slams DoD Extension; EADS Says 60 Days Not Enough
The Pentagon announced today that it will extend the deadline for KC-X Tanker program bids for another 60 days to allow EADS time to submit a bid, if it receives formal notification from EADS of their intention to make an offer.
The new deadline to submit proposals for both Boeing and EADS would be July 9. EADS had asked for 90 days, but DOD determined 60 days was a reasonable amount of time, said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell. The military is willing to compress its bid evaluation period to allow EADS more time to submit its bid. He said he believes that EADS is likely to submit a bid.
“We believe we can compress the valuation period somewhat,” he said. Politics is not a part of the process, he emphasized. The extension will not change any of the tanker requirements or the way bids will be evaluated, Morrell said. He expects EADS to make a decision on whether to submit a bid in the "next couple of weeks."
EADS was clearly not as happy as Morrell might have wanted them to be.
“Since the Department of Defense indicated their interest in EADS’ participation as prime contractor in the KC-X tanker competition, the company has carefully assessed the many requirements necessary to participate. We have firmly indicated that a 90 day extension would be the minimum time necessary to prepare a responsible proposal for this $40 billion program," Guy Hicks, spokesperson for EADS North America, said in an email. "We will consider the Department’s decision to offer a 60-day extension.”
The Pentagon, Morrell said, plans to award the contract in early fall. Compressing the evaluation period somewhat will allow the military to stick closely to the original contract schedule. "It is not uncommon to grant reasonable extensions in competitions of this sort, we consider 60 days to be reasonable in this case," he said.
One day after the announcement, Boeing issued a statement criticizing the Pentagon for granting the extension. Here it is:
"We are deeply disappointed with EADS-Airbus efforts to further delay this vital warfighting program and tilt the U.S. procurement process in its favor. EADS-Airbus has been fully engaged in the competition for four years and was always expected to provide the vast majority of its team's work content.
"We welcome the denial of EADS's repeated requests to alter U.S. warfighting requirements, and we support the Air Force's stated intent to provide a level playing field for qualified competitors. We do not see a legitimate reason for EADS's bid deadline extension request, and we believe an extension that favors any individual competitor does not further the goal of ensuring fair competition.
"Boeing remains fully prepared to submit a competitive proposal by the May 10 deadline originally set by the Air Force. However, this latest development, along with the World Trade Organization's recent final ruling that Airbus has been heavily and illegally subsidized for decades, requires Boeing to review all of our options for going forward while we wait for a final determination on a deadline extension."