Now, that Boeing is the only bidder on the KC-X, the Seattle Times notes that Boeing now has to make sure that it is not seen as taking advantage of being the sole bidder:
Northrop Grumman walked away from the $40 billion Air Force refueling-tanker competition Monday, drawing a widely criticized and nearly decadelong procurement process close to an outright Boeing victory.
With the likely prospect of air tankers rolling out of Everett until around 2027 at least, the outcome could secure as many as 2,000 direct jobs in Everett and an additional 6,000 statewide at suppliers and others, according to previous Boeing estimates.
Yet Northrop’s withdrawal leaves Boeing with a pricing dilemma as it prepares a final bid. The Pentagon, embarrassed by the lack of competition, now will be under extra scrutiny over what it pays for its tankers.
On one hand, because the contract is a fixed price — meaning the winner must swallow the loss if program costs escalate beyond the price it bids — Boeing typically would be expected to aim high, especially with no competition.
At the same time, Boeing will want to avoid the appearance that it is taking advantage of Northrop’s withdrawal to jack up the price.
“This competition was supposed to be a model for future procurement,” said Issaquah-based aviation analyst Scott Hamilton of Leeham.net. “It’s clear the Department of Defense fell short again in running a procurement process that works.”
The contract is to supply the Air Force with 179 tankers used to refuel fighter, transport and bomber aircraft en route to their targets.
Northrop had teamed with EADS, parent of European planemaker Airbus, to offer a tanker based on the Airbus A330.
In 2008, the Defense Department cited a rough contract value of $35 billion, or about $196 million per airplane, plus an extra $5 billion in operational support and other costs.
Certainly, the rivalry in the previous round of the tanker competition between the Boeing 767 and the A330 drastically reduced the cost to the taxpayer.
Read the entire article at the Seattle Times.