Archive for February, 2010

New Group Advocating For Split Tanker Buy

The Washington Post writes today about a new group buying advertisements to support the concept of buying KC-X tankers from both Boeing (BA) and Northrop Grumman (NOC). The group is called “Build Them Both” and its financiers have so far remained private. The idea of a split buy was floated last year but despite the ability to produce aircraft faster the related logistical costs are so high that the Air Force and DoD won’t consider it.

The article may be found here as the second part of the post.

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Hopes High That This Try Is The End Of The KC-X Contest

Over at BNET: Government where I also publish I have a piece on how this third try will be the winning one for the Air Force and Defense Department to get a new aircraft to replace the aging KC-135 fleet. There still remain many challenges with the contest as Northrop may not bid and Boeing has expressed concerns with the fixed price portion of the contract.

It will be an interesting next few months as this is all worked out. Next deadline is May 10th when proposals are due.

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In Comparison To Those In Alabama Boeing Supporters Confident

The Herald a newspaper in Everett, WA has an article discussing how happy and confident Boeing’s legislator supporters are with the new RFP released yesterday by the Air Force. This is the opposite as to how those from Alabama feel. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) is quoted as saying, “Given a fair shot, Washington state’s workers will bring home this contract,” Murray said. “We have the skills, the technology, and the experience of having built the only combat-ready tanker to prove it.”

If Northrop Grumman (NOC) and its partner Airbus don’t submit a bid it will be hard for Boeing (BA) to not win the contract. Hence the happiness of their supporters.

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Alabama Senators Not Happy With New RFP

In an article in The Mobile Press Register Senators Shelby (R-AL) and Sessions (R-AL) make it clear that they are not happy with the new RFP. Shelby says “The final RFP discredits the integrity of the entire process,” and Sessions seems to feel that Northrop Grumman (NOC) won’t bid. He laments the lack of competition in the process.

This of course is not a surprising reaction as Northrop and EADS planned to assemble the basic A330 aircraft in Mobile, AL and then integrate the military systems at a Northrop facility.

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New RFP Released Today

The Air Force and Department of Defense acquisition officials briefed Congress and the press today on the new RFP for the KC-X. It had some slight changes from the draft release a few months ago. The key question is will Northrop bid this time around?

They won the last contract to have that thrown out on Boeing’s protest. Much more to come on this in the days ahead.

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Trimble Questions New Group Lobbying For KC-X Split Buy

UPDATE: Stephen Trimble has said the following in response to this post: I’m a headline! (Although I wasn’t really trying to “denounce” anybody — just raising questions.). So, I’ve changed “Denounce” to “Question” in both the title and the first sentence.

At Flight Global, Stephen Trimble has written a blog post questioning the formation of a new group that is lobbying for a split tanker buy:

Just when you might think the “split buy” idea for KC-X is dead and buried, it seems to be back today.

A self-described non-partisan coalition called American Jobs Now! has launched a well-funded push on Capitol Hill called “Build Them Both”. This is not a fly-by-night lobby group.  Carrie Giddens, formerly communications director for the Iowa Democratic Party during the 2008 presidential election, is the newly-hired organizer. The group also published full-page advertisements in Politico (which published today) and tomorrow in The Hill newspaper. The ad says a split buy “will speed the delivery”, “retire an outdated fleet” and “will save taxpayers” money. Above all, the split buy will create “100,000 new US jobs”.

Let’s put our questions about those facts aside, just for the moment. (Not to get nit-picky, but surely a single project to build, at most, 25-30 aircraft a year will not consume one-seventh of the US aerospace workforce. Besides – wink, wink – those 100,000 aerospace workers are already busy building the last 40 F-22s.)

The big question, of course, is which side is this group on?

Trimble spends the rest of this column trying to get a clear answer to this question. If you are interested, go to Flight Global to read the rest.

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Governors Support Boeing Tanker in DC Press Conference

Seattle’s Channel 5 covered the Governor’s press conference on the KC-X Tanker contract, in Washington D.C, this afternoon. According to Channel 5:

At the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Washington state Gov. Chris Gregoire announced the launch of a bi-partisan coalition of governors to push for Boeing-built refueling tankers. It’s called the U.S. Tanker 2010 Coalition, and other states represented include Oregon, Kansas, Connecticut, Maine, Utah, Illinois, Missouri and Iowa – all states with a stake in the outcome, mostly as suppliers of parts.

“Together, we are going to make it known we’re going to fight for this work,” Gregoire said Monday.


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Press Release: Governors organize national coalition to push for Boeing refueling tankers

Tens of thousands of American jobs across the country depend on decision

OLYMPIA – Governors from states across the country are organizing a broad-based coalition to advocate for awarding the U.S. Air Force refueling tanker contract to the Boeing Company.

“Awarding the refueling tanker contract to Boeing will provide work for 40,000 to 50,000 people all across the country at a time when the national economy is still struggling mightily,” Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire said.  “Boeing has a long history of making great tankers and is ready to start with these today.  Boeing has the facilities, the technical expertise and the experienced work force to get the job done.”

The coalition is a bi-partisan effort committed to ensuring the tanker that is selected can produce the best product for the Air Force, will create the most American jobs and wisely spends taxpayer dollars.

Gregoire, who is spearheading the formation of the coalition, will be in Washington, D.C., on Monday, February 22, 2010 to make the case for an all-American refueling tanker. Joining Gregoire in the coalition are Governors Mark Parkinson of Kansas, Jodi Rell from Connecticut, Chet Culver of Iowa, John Baldacci of Maine, Jay Nixon of Missouri, Ted Kulongoski of Oregon and Gary Herbert of Utah.

Governors will speak at the National Press club on Monday, February 22, 2010 about the coalition and the case for buying the U.S. Tanker.  For details contact Bill McSherry in the office of Gov. Gregoire at (206) 790-3167.

The Pentagon is expected to release the final tanker Request For Proposals (RFP) as early as Tuesday, February 23, 2010.

Event Date: Monday, Feb. 22

4:30 p.m. EST

Governors Parkinson and Gregoire to hold media availability

National Press Club, Murrow Room

Washington, D.C.

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LA Times Has Good Summary Of The KC-X Situation

The Los Angles Times today published a short article by W.J. Henigan that summarizes the current situation. He stresses that Los Angeles based Northrop Grumman (NOC) not participating may make the whole attempt moot again. He writes:

“But there are already signs that the competition could be derailed once again. Century City-based Northrop Grumman Corp., one of the two contenders, has threatened to withdraw its bid, accusing the Air Force of writing specifications that favor its rival, Boeing Co.”

The rest of the article may be found here.

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Air Force Plans Quick Turn Around On KC-X Contract

It is expected that the final RFP for the KC-X New Aerial Tanker program will be released this week. At a recent forum the Secretary of the Air Force, Michael Donley, said that they hope to have the contract awarded by the end of the summer. This means that if you allow a few months for the proposals to be prepared and submitted the source selection will only take ninety days or so. This is an aggressive time line for a contract this large.

It may be that the Air Force is expecting the Boeing (BA) and Northrop Grumman (NOC) proposals to be much like the ones they submitted in 2008. This will make it easier to do an evaluation and award. There is a great deal of historical work to draw upon. Of course that competition ended in a Northrop win, a Boeing protest, and the GAO upholding it. This led to the current attempt at a contract.

Of course if only Boeing submits a bid as might happen it will make the whole selection process easier.

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