Department of Defence Reacts To Northrop’s Decision Not To Bid on KC-X

Statement by Deputy Secretary William Lynn on Northrop Grumman Tanker Announcement

“We are disappointed by Northrop’s decision not to submit a bid for the U.S. Air Force tanker replacement program.

In the last tanker replacement (KC-X) competition, Northrop Grumman competed well on both price and non-price factors. We strongly believe that the current competition is structured fairly and that both companies could compete effectively.

Based on the inputs we received from both offerors to the Department’s draft Request for Proposal (RFP), we made changes to reduce the out-year risk to the potential manufacturers of KC-X. However, we did not change the war-fighters’ requirements to accommodate either offeror.

The Department strongly supports trans-Atlantic defense industrial ties and believes they benefit the American war-fighter and taxpayer.”

The statement was published here.

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KC-X RFP Questions And Answers Continue

The U.S. Air Force put out a draft Request for Proposal (RFP) in late September. It has proceeded apace with the receipt of questions related to the RFP and putting out answers. The idea is that the type of questions received should help write the final RFP to make it better and get better proposals.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that so far two sets of answers have been put out and they already run to several pages. Considering that it is expected only the same two teams will bid it indicates the new RFP is significantly different.

This will be a long, hard slog of a contract award again.

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Process Under Attack

While our opponent and their supporters have begun attacking the U.S. Air Force and its KC-X Tanker draft Request for Proposal, we have chosen to work within the process and continue asking questions some of which are posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website.

In the past, this competition to replace America’s critical fleet of air refueling tankers has been fought very publicly. Our preference is to allow the process to play out rather than work the requirements through the media. We will talk about the KC-X tanker competition when we’re ready and when it’s appropriate.

Ultimately, the men and women who selflessly serve our nation deserve the very best. We believe that is an American designed and built, combat-ready tanker with max capability at lowest cost. That tanker is the Boeing KC-7A7.

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Working Through the Process

Just wanted to comment on a Reuters story ("U.S. tanker aircraft rules spark concern in industry") that hit the wire last night. It describes "industry executives as starting to raise fundamental questions" about the U.S. Air Force's KC-X Tanker draft Request for Proposal released Sept. 25. If you've been following our blog, we've been very clear about how we’re approaching this. We continue to submit our draft RFP questions to the program office and see them answered at the Federal Business Opportunities website. Now, I don't know who the anonymous quotes were from, and it is not my concern to try and find out. (I can tell you it wasn't me.) I do know, however, that our competitors held a number of "on-background" briefings with reporters yesterday on the draft-RFP.

The bottom line is that the U.S. Air Force is running this tanker competition and both sides have to step forward and meet their mandatory requirements. We will continue to work through the process and look forward to offering a KC-7A7 combat-ready tanker featuring max capability at lowest cost for America.

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Just Ask The Question

One of the main reasons we created and this blog was to provide some insight into a very critical acquisition effort to replace America's air refueling tanker fleet.

For those who've been following that newly-started KC-X competition, you know the U.S. Air Force released their draft Request for Proposal (RFP) Sept. 25. This document goes into detail about the 373 requirements that must be met to participate in the competition. It also describes how proposals will be scored and even what happens in case of a tie. Our United States Tanker team has spent a great deal of time studying the draft RFP. Remember this is the main document we'll be using to decide which member of our KC-7A7 'family of tankers' to offer, or whether to offer both.

But we can't just make decisions on what's written in the document alone. Our main focus as we drive toward some key internal decisions is clarity. We must clearly understand how the service's requirements are defined and prioritized, and how our proposal will be evaluated.

So how do we get those answers? Simple...just ask.

Any company seeking to compete to build the replacement for the KC-135 Stratotanker fleet can submit questions to the KC-X Tanker Program Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio, and have them answered online at the Federal Business Opportunities website.

We began submitting questions earlier this month and look forward to seeing the answers posted on the public website soon. While some of that Q&A may be administrative in nature, you might gain some interesting insight into how the process works by checking out the site. Feel free to tell us what you'd ask.

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Boeing Will Deliver

Hoping you'll read an interesting editorial ("This Time, Air Force Needs to Deliver") posted on the St. Petersburg Times website on the U.S. Air Force's KC-X Tanker competition.  It mentions nearby MacDill AFB (home to the active duty 6th Air Mobility Wing and its associate Air Force Reserve Command 927th Air Refueling Wing) and the KC-135R fleet assigned there.

Most of the editorial focuses on the new competition and how changes from past acquisition efforts will allow the Department of Defense and Air Force to make an "apples-to-apples comparison of the bids."

While most will be picking apart the Draft Request for Proposal and trying to forecast who may win next summer, the most compelling part of this piece was the reference to Air Force folks having to build their own spare parts since they were no longer available for the Eisenhower-era Stratotanker.

It's no secret that the KC-135 fleet needs to be replaced immediately. But as we enter into the KC-X competition and prepare our bid, we always remind our team how critically important the tanker fleet is to this nation, the urgency to win this contract and to start building new tankers.

The St. Petersburg Times suggests that the Air Force "procure a plane that meets its mission requirements for the right price." We firmly believe the Boeing Company and our Tanker Team will do just that by offering a combat-ready KC-7A7 tanker with max capability at lowest cost.

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Just wanted to keep folks following (via the web site, Twitter, and email) updated on our latest KC-X activity.

John Lockard (Chief Operating Officer, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems) and Pat Shanahan (Vice President/General Manager, Airplane Programs - Boeing Commercial Airplanes) led our team today as we met with members of the U.S. Air Force's KC-X Tanker program office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio.

This was our first opportunity to meet face-to-face with our customer since last Friday's release of the KC-X Tanker Draft Request for Proposal (DRFP) and we appreciated both their time and emphasis on transparency.

We feel that one of our key discriminators in this new competition will be a 'one-company' approach. The Air Force will only have to turn to a single point of contact if we are fortunate enough to win this contract and replace America's critical refueling fleet.

Speaking of our approach, here's an update on how we're handling the Draft RFP:

Our team has been dissecting this important document for a week now. We have chosen to ask our questions and highlight areas of interest directly to the Air Force first before discussing them publicly.

As for timing, we should see a Final RFP in late November followed by proposals due in January 2010, and finally a contract award some time next summer.

Regardless of the timing, you can count on one thing. Boeing plans on offering a combat-ready tanker with max capability at lowest cost.

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Tanker Buzz at the AFA Convention

We’re excited to be at the Air Force Association’s annual convention today (View our presentation), participating in the vibrant community that is unique to the Air Force. One of the most talked about topics here at the convention is the Air Force’s upcoming competition to build a new fleet of tanker refueling aircraft – a competition that Boeing is proud to take part in.

Soon, the Pentagon will release its draft request for proposals for new tankers. We’re looking forward to working with the Air Force to understand these requirements so we can offer the most capable tanker to the warfighter at the best value for the taxpayer.

Boeing’s decades-long experience in building 2,000 tankers and in manufacturing derivative aircraft to meet specific Air Force missions gives us an edge over the competition in putting together the most technologically advanced proposal that will be tailored to meet the Air Force’s specific needs.

Although Boeing has many options to consider, there are three fundamental reasons why we can offer the most capable and best value tanker to the Air Force:

Boeing’s Tanker Will Be Mission Ready. Boeing is the only company whose boom-equipped tanker aircraft are flying in combat missions today. And independent reports show that its new advanced tanker designs will be the most survivable and dependable tanker aircraft in history. Boeing’s powerful blend of innovation and experience will deliver the most capable tanker to the warfighter, built to perform on command in the crucible of combat.

Boeing’s Tanker Will Be American-Designed. America’s aerospace industry leads the world in cutting-edge technology and the highest-quality manufacturing. As a result, Boeing will be able to offer 5th generation boom technology with fly-by-wire design, a state-of-the-art flight deck and a proven airframe that will last the next 50 years and beyond.

Boeing’s Tanker Will Offer Maximum Capability At Less Cost. Whether the Air Force is looking for an expeditionary tanker as a replacement for the KC-135 or a tanker with increased cargo and fuel capacities, Boeing has an outstanding portfolio of commercial aircraft that will make great air refueling tankers. Boeing is uniquely positioned today to manufacture the most technologically advanced and capable aircraft using economies of scale that will lower cost and risk for taxpayers.

Tanker aircraft and the brave crews that fly them are known as the workhorses of the Air Force – the aircraft that enable fighters, bombers, and cargo aircraft to fly farther and faster, to complete their missions and return home safely.

Boeing looks forward to developing what we believe will be the most capable and best value tanker for the Air Force and we’re glad to be sharing our passion for tankers with the Air Force community here at AFA.

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