Thursday, September 18, 2008


Ouch! On September 3rd, U.S. Air Mobility Command General Arthur Lichte urged that a quick decision be made between the Boeing and Northrup Grumman / EADS submissions for the next-generation air tanker, given the recent problems with the decision (see links). The problem is that the KC-135s that make up the USAF refueling fleet are over 40 years old on average, and showing their age. Then on September 10th Defense Secretary Robert Gates canceled the RFP, punting the decision to the next president. “Rather than hand the next Administration an incomplete and possibly contested process, Secretary Gates decided that the best course of action is to provide the next Administration with full flexibility regarding the requirements, evaluation criteria, and the appropriate allocation of defense budget to this mission,” a Pentagon release said...

We'll have to wait until after the election to see what a President Obama or McCain would do - as of now candidate Obama seems to be calibrating his position based on the number of union votes it will bring in, while candidate McCain claims to have no preference as long as the process is fair.

Note: McCain has a history here (in 2003/2004 McCain shot down a sweetheart deal between the airforce and Boeing to lease tankers. In the aftermath the Secretary of the Air Force resigned, Darlene Druyun went to jail for four months, Boeing CFO Michael Sears was fired and also went to jail, and Boeing CEO Phil Condit resigned.), and is also being attacked by the Obama campaign for having former EADS lobbyists working on his campaign.

The USAF’s KC-X Aerial Tanker RFP: Canceled
KC-X articles at Defense Tech
KC-X articles at Danger Room
Air Force Air Refueling: The KC-X Aircraft Acquisition Program Comprehensive CRS report (pdf)
Even Stalled, KC-X Contract Is Still A Political Football