Northrop wins tanker contract
Update, 9:30 am: We’ve added more information below the jump.
Northrop Grumman won a big KC-10 tanker maintenance contract from the Air Force this week, taking it away from Boeing, which has had it for 10 years. The value is $3.8bn.
Boeing hinted that it might protest the award. Here is the story.
Maybe it’s just our Grassy Knoll bent, but is this a not too subtle message from USAF that tactics by Boeing supporters in the KC-X tanker competition are already irking the USAF?
This is another in a string of losses Boeing has suffered at the hands of the Defense Department.
At the same time, one of Northrop Gumman’s supporters, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Northrop/AL) has now jumped in to the KC-X competition and has introduced an amendment to block funding unless the USAF provides Northrop with Boeing’s pricing. This AP story has details. George Talbot of The Mobile Press-Register has these stories of interest: October 2; September 30; September 29.
This competition is getting messier by the minute. We return, once again, to our view that the only way this procurement is going to go forward is through a split buy: double the acquisition from 15-18 a year (a ridiculously low number under any circumstances) to 30-36 a year and give Boeing and Northrop contracts for the KC-767 and KC-30. Aside from the political realities, there are strategic reasons to do so, in our view.
Furthermore, accelerating the deliveries, even with two equipment types, will save money in the long run by eliminating much sooner the aging KC-135 fleet and its increasing maintenance costs.
Update, 400pm Oct. 2: The Everett Herald has this item quoting defense analyst Loren Thompson, also noting Boeing’s poor relationship with the Air Force.