The White House issued a 394 page report on what defense programs are subject to sequestration. The USAF tanker replacement–a program won by Boeing in a bitter contest–is on the hit list (PDF Page 274, document page Appendix B 38). It’s something called the Replacement Transfer Fund, Appropriation Discretionary. Whatever all this means.
The current Air Force One (all two of them) entered service in 1990 and 1991 and are based on the Boeing 747-200. The time appears nearing for a replacement.
Defense News reports that the USAF has added replacements in its future planning.
Given the long history of the Secret Service demanding more than two engines, a replacement would almost certainly be the Boeing 747-8I.
It now appears the USAF will announce the tanker contract Thursday, Feb. 24, at 5pm EST. Expectations are that EADS will be awarded the contract, but there have been so many twists and turns that we’re not predicting the outcome.
The greater question will be, Will there be a protest? As we reported Monday, EADS says it won’t protest if it loses provided there is nothing egregious in the selection process. Boeing has clearly been laying the groundwork for a protest, but neither is it certain Boeing will do so if it loses.
Here is the timeline of what happens next:
- The announcement is made.
- The Department of the Air Force has 10 calendar days to brief the losing side.
- The losing side can request an accelerated debrief.
- The losing competitor then has 10 calendar days from the time of the debrief to file the actual protest with the GAO.
- The GAO then has up to 100 calendar days to rule on the protest (they may take less time).
- The results can be: 1.) GAO finds no merit and throws out the entire protest; 2.) GAO sustains part of the protest; 3.) GAO sustains all of the protest.
- The GAO does not rule on whether or not the Department chose the right aircraft, which aircraft was better, etc. It only rules on whether the proper process was followed during the source selection.
- The Department can then accept the ruling and provide a timeline for how they will address the issues the GAO ruled on and determine whether and how it impacts the outcome. Or, they can note the GAO ruling but proceed as originally planned.
With Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) set to hold the tanker hearing on Thursday (Jan. 27), it is clear the USAF continues to drag on its decision in the KC-X competition, which was expected this month. It now looks like March.
We’re going to ask a question that may be considered by some to be ridiculous on its face (and we’re not entirely sure it isn’t) but which, given all the twists and turns, starts-and-stops, hissy fits and more that’s happened in the painful saga of USAF tankers, we might ask, Why not ask this question?
Is failure an option?
The USAF and EADS need to come forward with full details to fully explain the latest cock-up (a British term, not an obscene one) in which the Air Force mistakenly sent EADS and Boeing proprietary information about the other company’s KC-X submission.
EADS, the Air Force and Boeing say that when EADS and Boeing discovered the error, the companies began a procedure that has been in place for years to seal up the files and computers and to notify the USAF of the error. The Air Force initially said, in essence, “no harm, no foul.” But then in classic Wikileaks fashion, information dribbled out bit-by-bit that there was more to the story than the Air Force–and EADS–let on.
At a press conference–which we were at–EADS North America CEO Sean O’Keefe gave a detailed response to questions about the matter. But within days, it was charged by Lexington Institute’s Loren Thompson that EADS had actually opened the proprietary file but Boeing had not. He did not cite sources for his information, and his close ties to Boeing immediately raised the suspicion that Boeing leaked this information to him.