Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tanker Saga Continues; Bidding Process Reopened

The Air Force’s troubled attempt to build a new aerial refueling tanker aircraft is now in the hands of the Pentagon, which will oversee a new bidding process. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said this week that a department official, John Young, will be in charge of the competition.

Young is defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics and is the top weapons buyer for the Pentagon.

The tanker contract was awarded by the Air Force on Feb. 29 to Northrop Grumman and European Aeronautic Defence and Space, the parent of Airbus. However, Boeing, which also submitted a bid for the $40 billion contract, protested. The award was also blasted in political circles because much of the aircraft would be built in France.

The Government Accountability Office investigated and found “significant errors” with the process that may have tipped the contract away from Boeing. In light of that report, Gates has reopened the bidding and said a selection could be made by the end of the year.

This is not the first trouble with the tanker acquisition. In 2003, an Air Force official and one with Boeing went to jail after a deal was made to lease tanker aircraft from Boeing.

The tanker was the topic of a House Armed Services subcommittee meeting on Thursday, where lawmakers wanted answers for the difficulties in successfully awarding a contract. They wondered if the problems were limited to the Air Force or if the Pentagon’s entire acquisition process was flawed.

“Is it too complex?” asked Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, the subcommittee chairman. “Do we have the right people? Do we have the right training?”

May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary's News and Ideas.

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