Antonov Team Request Delay in Proposal Deadline

As reported last week U.S. Aerospace and Antonov intend to submit a proposal to the Air Force for the KC-X aerial tanker. Because the actual proposals are due this week supposedly the new team will ask for a sixty day delay to accommodate them. The deadline has already been moved once from June to July to allow EADS (EADS:P) and its team to bid.

The current schedule is for a contract award in November and this new extension would probably push that into 2011 due to the time it will take to evaluate a third bid. U.S. Aerospace did say that they will submit this week if no extension is granted.

A third proposal will make the contest more interesting especially as the Antonov will be very price competitive.

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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 To Consider Extension

EADS North America released a statement last night about the sixty day extension granted for KC-X proposals. They stated:

“Since the Department of Defense indicated their interest in EADS’ participation as prime contractor in the KC-X tanker competition, the company has carefully assessed the many requirements necessary to participate. We have firmly indicated that a 90-day extension would be the minimum time necessary to prepare a responsible proposal for this $40 billion program. We will consider the Department’s decision to offer a 60-day extension.”

This seems to indicate that EADS may still have given themselves an option not to participate by claiming the need for ninety days vice sixty.

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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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EADS Continues Efforts To Gain Support Of Tanker

It has been reported that EADS spent almost $200,000.00 last quarter on just tanker related lobbying. It is not uncommon for larger companies of all sorts to spend time in Congress working to support their programs and proposals.

The KC-X contract being so important this effort will be even more concentrated. EADS work with its supportive Congressional members has already worked out well especially with the delegation from Alabama. Support like this will be key as the RFP goes final, proposals are submitted and the source selection works its course. The next quarter reports should show similar numbers.

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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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Wichita Waits On The KC-X

Boeing has maintained a facility at Wichita, KS for years. In their last proposal for the KC-X Boeing planned on using this plant to do the military conversions of the aircraft as it has for so many others in the past. Unfortunately with the new proposal Boeing no longer makes that guarantee. They are trying to minimize their total cost and that may require the use of another site then Wichita. Unfortunately this will be bad for the Wichita plant as it has been looking for work to keep it open in the future.

As the proposals come in things like this will be interesting to look out for.

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Possible Multiple Proposals From Boeing

Boeing has been investigating offering two different proposals to meet the KC-X RFP. One of these would be based like last time on the 767 platform. There are already versions of this tanker being built for foriegn countries. Another would use the 777 air liner. This is larger then the 767 and would carry more fuel farther. The EADS A330 which won the last abortive attempt was the larger of the two aircraft bid and supposedly that helped it win. This approach though will make Boeing do a great deal more work then Northrop and EADS have to do as they already have the foundation for their new proposal as does Boeing with the 767 bid.

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