(Special projects precluded us from updating last week, so some of the links below backtrack into then.)
Politics continue to plague the tanker program even though the Bush Administration has punted the decision to the next presidency. Today we play catch-up with selected stories of interest.
Update, September 26:
Inside Defense reports that US Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee, says a split buy between Northrop and Boeing is the only way to recapitalize the USAF tanker program any time soon.
Murtha generally has been supportive of Boeing’s KC-767 tanker proposal.
He’s added language to the 2009 defense appropriations bill directing the DOD to study the feasibility of a split buy, Inside Defense reports. Murtha, according to the publication, acknowledged that Boeing and DOD don’t like the idea and he didn’t know if Northrop does, “But let me tell you something, we’re not going to have tankers if we don’t do that, I’m convinced,” Inside Defense quotes Murtha as saying.
Murtha predicted that in a re-compete, Northrop is likely to receive the order because its plane is ready to go.
Inside Defense is a paid-subscription service only but readers may register for free and receive three free articles (and then pay a la carte thereafter). This article may be found here, with the registration process the first thing you will see.
Update, September 25:
Be careful what you ask for. US Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Boeing/Washington) announced that he’s inserted language in a new House bill to require the USAF or DOD to review any adverse ruling from the World Trade Organization on the “illegal” subsidies complaints filed by the US Trade Representative and the European Union against Airbus and Boeing. He has said for years that Airbus received “illegal” subsidies and presumes the WTO will back up the USTR complaint. Most objective observers, including us, agree with his biased viewpoint on this one.
But most objective observers, including us, also think the WTO will find Boeing received “illegal” subsidies as well–something Dicks and other Boeing supporters in Congress seem blind to.
The full House has to approve Dicks’ language (likely) and then the Senate has to agree (unlikely).
A decision by the WTO is overdue.
Update, September 24:
Mobile Press-Register: Gates against tanker split buy.
Aviation Week: DOD’s Gates eyed changes to RFP before canceling contract.
JD Crowe at The Mobile Press Register is at it again.
Update, September 23:
Associated Press: DOD Secretary Robert Gates says the next administration should buy the cheapest tanker.
Washington Times: [Tanker] Rigged in Boeing’s favor. US Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Northrop/Alabama) writes in an Op-Ed piece that DOD’s decision punting the tanker to the next presidency was nothing more than a sop to Boeing.
JD Crowe at Mobile Press-Register
Business Week: Boeing’s CEO beat the Pentagon, but lost some, too. Boeing CEO Jim McNerney gambled in taking on the Pentagon over the tanker, and won.
Defense Industry Daily: A400M delays creating contract controversies. Airbus’ sole military program isn’t going too well. (We count the KC-330 as a broader EADS program; the A400M is Airbus.)
Washington Post: Defense buyer says Northrop’s bid was $3bn cheaper than Boeing. DOD’s John Young said the smaller KC-767 should have been cheaper to buy than Northrop’s KC-30–but it wasn’t. We say perhaps the US taxpayer was going to benefit after all from all those “illegal” subsidies alleged to be provided to Airbus.
Inside Defense: Flyoff will determine tanker win. The Air Force’s top buyer predicts a flyoff between Boeing and Northrop for the tanker contract. Inside Defense is a paid subscription service but with registration you can get three freebies, including this article.
Los Angeles Times. Northrop entitled to termination fee. The Pentagon says Northrop is due tens of millions of dollars for the canceled tanker contract.