Archive for June, 2010

Air Force Now Slips RFP Award Date to November

Earlier this year in responding to questions about the delay to the submissions of proposals to July due to the accommodation for EADS (EADS:P) the Air Force said the contract will start in mid-November. Now word is coming out that the award won’t be made until “late November”. Critics have seized on this changes as a delay due to the decision to allow EADS to bid.

Technically this is a delay of several weeks from the original schedule. The chances though of the Air Force meeting that were low as it was very aggressive. It only gave them four months to review proposals and conduct the award. Even if they assumed the new proposals were similar to the last ones in 2008 that amount of time to conduct a source selection for a contract of this size may have been a little unrealistic.

This decision will spur EADS’ opponents and Boeing (BA) supporters to further their current war of words.

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EADS Ups Commitment to Alabama

In a sign that they are ramping up work on their bid for the new KC-X aerial tanker program EADS (EADS:P) announced that they are moving their proposal preparation team to new offices in Mobile, AL. If the European defense giant does win the contract they will assemble the A330 aircraft at that city and then apply the specific military modifications there or at another facility.

Reportedly EADS will concentrate about 100 workers in Mobile. They are currently based in Arlington, VA where the EADS North America headquarters is and Melbourne, FL. The Melbourne site was most likely established when EADS was working with Northorp Grumman (NOC) on their last attempt in 2008. Northrop has an aircraft modification facility there used to support the E-8 JSTARS program.

The Defense Department and Air Force expect to received proposals in July and award in the Fall. The Boeing (BA) team and their “NewGen Tanker is considered the only other potential offer.

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SecDef Steps Up for EADS

The Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made clear that the Defense Department and the Air Force want some competition for the KC-X aerial tanker program. This is going to have to include EADS (EADS:P) against Boeing (BA) due to the requirements of the program. Gates stressed disappointment with those in Congress attempting to prevent U.S. companies working with EADS on their bid.

If there is going to be any competition for the third attempt to buy a replacement for the aging KC-135 aircraft it will have to include EADS. The only other potentially viable contender would be a Russian aircraft either based on the Ilyushin IL-78 Midas system or perhaps on the IL-96 wide body airliner. Having a Russian competitor would make the contest even more difficult then just one with EADS.

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Boeing Plans for New Presidential Helicopter Have a Role in KC-X

Here is a post I wrote at Defense Procurement News about Boeing’s (BA) decision to use the Augusta Westland 101 as the base aircraft for their new Presidential transport helicopter bid. It makes them look a little hypocritical on the whole EADS (EADS:P) role in KC-X.

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Reports That EADS Has U.S. Partner

EADS (EADS:P) had decided to go it alone with their own bid for the KC-X aerial tanker after former partner Northrop Grumman (NOC) decided the requirements favored Boeing (BA) too much. All that meant is that EADS would prime the contract but would probably find other companies, including U.S. ones, to sub for them. It is now being said by EADS that they have found at least one U.S. defense contractor to do “sensitive equipment”. The company is unidentified at this point.

This only makes sense as it allows Airbus to deliver a A330 aircraft or tanker to a U.S. facility to do the integration of the military equipment such as radios and defensive equipment. EADS is planning to do this with Lockheed Martin (LMT) on the Army’s new attempt at buying an Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) and should do this for KC-X. Lockheed planned the same thing with Augusta Westland on the failed VH-71 program. By using an American company to do this sort of work it helps with security and technology transfer issues. It is also the reason that EADS North America exists.

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