Military Leaders Press Obama to Act On Defense Contract — Press Release

Military Leaders Press Obama to Act On Defense Contract

Further Delays Put Our War fighters in Jeopardy

WASHINGTON, April 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Twelve members of the National Defense Trust (NDT) today sent a letter to President Barack Obama expressing concern over the ongoing delays and political maneuvering preventing the Air Force from awarding the contract to build the next generation of aerial refueling tankers. The letter was signed by retired military officers, leaders of think tanks focusing on national defense, and a former US Senator. A copy of the letter was sent to every Member of Congress.

The current fleet of refueling tankers is five decades old and have been in service since the Korean War. Efforts to build new planes that support military aircraft has been ongoing for nearly a decade and the contracts have been canceled due to controversy and scandal.

The latest Request for Proposal was released several months ago with one of the bidders, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), withdrawing from the competition. However, after pressure from EADS and the government of France, the Pentagon extended the deadline for two months.

The National Defense Trust’s members believe it is critical that the delays, particularly those that are politically motivated, cease, allowing the military to focus on procuring the planes needed for a strong national defense. As a result of the most recent delay in the process, NDT members have sent this letter to Commander in Chief Obama and Members of Congress. The letter reads in part:

Delays often beget delays. Our war fighters deserve new tankers delivered as quickly as possible, and we see no valid reason to postpone the tanker acquisition process any longer. We urge you to resist further efforts to stall the long-overdue process of procuring and building the next fleet of refueling tankers our men and women in uniform need and deserve.

The National Defense Trust is a coalition of Americans dedicated to a robust defense of the United States and our allies.

Source: National Defense Trust

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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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Department of Defense Willing to do KC-X with only Boeing

In a post on BNET Industries, Matthew Potter notes that the Department of Defense is willing to go ahead with only Boeing bidding on the KC-X:

The Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in testimony to the House Armed Services Committee made it clear that the Defense Department and U.S. Air Force will release the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the new KC-X tanker and award a contract even if only Boeing (BA) submits a proposal. The Department hopes that the Northrop Grumman (NOC) and EADS (EADS:P) will submit a bid but will go forward with the planned contract even if they don’t.

In early December Northrop Grumman’s CEO sent a letter to the Air Force stating that due to the terms of the draft RFP they felt that it so favored Boeing that they and their partner EADS, parent of Airbus, would not submit a proposal. Northrop had won the contract in 2008 only to lose it on protest by Boeing with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) saying that the Air Force changed the requirements and was not completely fair to Boeing. An earlier attempt to award Boeing a lease for KC-767 aircraft collapsed amid scandals and Congressional desire to have contest.

Read the entire post Defense Department Willing To Do KC-X With Only Boeing Bid for more.

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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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Handing the Air Force the Stick

This year’s AFA Convention was one of the most action-packed in recent memory.  And one of the biggest news-making events was Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ announcement that he’s putting the Air Force in charge of this year’s tanker competition. 

Boeing welcomes the Air Force’s leadership in the effort to replace America’s KC-135 refueling fleet, and anxiously awaits the release of the Request for Proposal.  Our top priority will be to work with the Air Force to ensure that we understand the service’s requirements and their relative priority. 

It’s particularly important that the requirements for the new competition be crystal clear.  Boeing is the only competitor offering the Air Force a choice between different refueling options, each of which delivers more capability at lower cost.   The KC-767 is a wide-body tanker with a narrow footprint that has more agility and proven technological capability than any competitor.  The KC-777 tanker can also double as a formidable cargo aircraft, providing more capacity at a similar size to Airbus’ A330-based plane.  

As I told so many people at AFA, we’re excited to work hand-in-hand with the Air Force to understand the service’s needs, and look forward to building America’s next tanker – one that meets all the warfighters’ needs at the lowest cost to the taxpayer. 

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