As reports swirl that L-3, seen as the likeliest partner for an EADS tanker bid, may drop the idea of working with the European defense giant, Rep. Norm Dicks said he hopes the Franco-German company doesn't place a bid.
After saying that "this is a free country" Dicks said he hoped that U.S. companies would not partner with EADS. It's not a direct threat, but you can bet that the Washington operations people and senior leadership of every major defense company will take that into account.
Deputy Defense Secretary Bill Lynn told a Capitol Hill lunch organized by the Aerospace Industries Association that EADS is "on the verge of a decision" about whether to place a bid for the $35 billion KC-X program. EADS has until July 9 to place a bid.
AFP quoted Sean O'Keefe, CEO of EADS North America, that his company is "seeking partners with the expertise to put forward a competent bid." The story says O'Keefe would not identify potential industry partners. His comment is significant because it confirms that EADS needs a partner that can handle highly sensitive technologies meant for the tanker. That is one of the reasons that L-3 made such a good partner; it possesses extensive experience with black technologies and programs and has the legal and bureaucratic structures in places to handle them.
Dicks, speaking after the lunch with Lynn, expressed consternation that EADS had gotten a 60-day extension from the Pentagon to place a bid. He worried it introduced uncertainty into the process. "At some point we've got to make a decision. There ought to be more certainty here," he said. Asked if he would introduce legislation barring EADS from bidding, he declined, saying he did not think it would "be effective."