Archive for January, 2010

Two Tanker Buy Pushed Again

The Mayor of Mobile, AL was recently on Capitol Hill raising the issue of buying the new KC-X tanker from both Boeing (BA) and Northrop Grumman (NOC). Northrop and its partner EADS (EADS:P) plan to assemble the A330 aircraft in Mobile and then fit them out with the necessary equipment at a Northrop plant. The idea of awarding contracts to both companies has been discussed before. The primary benefit besides avoiding a protest and delaying the program again would be to more quickly replace the KC-135 aircraft.

The U.S.A.F. and Defense Department have not been positive about this idea in the past due to the larger, more expensive logistics tail required to support two dissimilar systems. During World War II and the Cold War the U.S. often did invest in multiple systems for a mission often operated by separate services. The U.S. military has not had the resources to afford this kind of commitment.

The new RFP is expected to be released within a matter of weeks. For the Air Force to do a dual award it would require development and approval of a whole new acquisition strategy. This would lead to even further delays in this contract. The chances of buying the two aircraft in the next year or so are very slight.

Comments (2)

KC-X Tanker RFP Out In February

At a recent press availability the U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, General Schwartz, said that he expects the final RFP for the KC-X contest to be released next month. He also stated that it will be little changed from the draft RFP. Both Northrop (NOC) and Boeing (BA) have been submitting questions and comments on the draft RFP and some of these will be addressed in the final one. The RFP will be released a few weeks after the 2011 Defense Budget goes to Congress which is planned for 2 February.

Schwarz did say that the final RFP may have changes based on recent comments by Northrop and its partner EADS (EADS:P) that they might not participate as they felt the RFP favored Boeing too much. Both groups had also commented on the use of a fixed price development contract and how it transferred too much risk to the contractor from the Government.

Leave a Comment

Northrop And EADS Wait On Final RFP Release

The KC-X Tanker RFP is expected to be released in the next few weeks. Previously Notthrop and its partner EADS had threatened not to participate as they felt the draft RFP was biased in favor of Boeing. Now they are saying they will wait and see what is in the RFP when it is put out. It is in the best interest of the Air Force and the U.S. Government to receive multiple bids on the project.

Without competition the chance of this third attempt proceeding will be difficult. Sole sourcing the contract to either Boeing or the Northrop team will cause an outcry in Congress no matter what as both companies have their supporters. Not putting out a competitive RFP will only lead to protests and further delays in what has become a critical program to replace the aging KC-135 aircraft.

We are all going to have to wait to see what the Air Force puts out and how Northrop, EADS and Boeing respond to it.

Comments (1)

Alabama Keeps Pushing The Air Force

Supposedly in a meeting between DoD and Air Force officials with members of the Alabama Congressional delegation it came out that the U.S.A.F. will adjust the KC-X RFP to keep Northrop Grumman (NOC) and EADS (EADS.P) in the competition. This of course is a report by Senator Sessions (R-AL) from the meeting. There is no official response as to how the U.S. officials will react to Northrop’s threatened non-participation.

It is in the best interest of the U.S. Government to have two bidders for this program and this may be a necessary step to assure that.

Leave a Comment