Update, Sept. 12:
Chicago Tribune: Obama slams McCain for ties to EADS, tanker controversy. It was bound to happen: the tanker is now fully caught up in presidential politics.
Mobile Press-Register: McCain ‘just doesn’t get it,’ claims Obama.
DOD Buzz: Direct sale of KC-30 to USAF pondered. Military.com’s blog reports some Northrop supports are trying to figure a way to offer to sell 20 KC-30s to the Air Force on a “commercial deal” that would by-pass the ordinary procurement process. Separately, we learned from two sources that US cargo airline Atlas Air considered a plan to buy the winning tanker and provide fueling services to the USAF.
Update, Sept. 11:
DOD Buzz: IAG does a 16 minute podcast with DOD Buzz, relating a conversation with US Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Boeing) about a possible split buy on the tanker (right at the top of the podcast); and the possibility that Northrop might offer a commercial deal to sell 20 KC-30s to the USAF (about 11:45 minutes).
Steve Trimble at Flight International has one of his as-usual insightful blog items.
Politico: Tanker delay may help McCain.
The Motley Fool takes a whimsical look at the tanker debacle.
Update, 7:00 PM Sept. 10:
Business Week reports that EADS is pondering a legal challenge to the DOD decision to cancel the competition.
CNN/Dow Jones: EADS howls over contract cancellation.
AFP (Europe): Politics charged in cancellation.
Seattle Times: Timeline in tanker saga.
The Wall Street Journal reports the Department of Defense has canceled the competition for the KC-X tanker. The report:
The Pentagon cancels tanker competition, saying it’s impossible to pick a winner by January. The Department of Defense is expected to notify Congress and the companies today. Full article to follow.
Wall Street Journal: Here is the full article, but paid subscription may be required.
This is another stunning twist in the tanker saga. More news to come.
DOD Buzz has this piece.
Our take: We agreed with Boeing that six months was reasonable to do the re-bid, but we don’t know why the analysis could not have transcended administrations. Although the top leadership at the Pentagon might change (even though there has been plenty of speculation that DOD Secretary could stay on, no matter whether McCain or Obama is elected), presumably the evaluators would not change–only the deciders. This development is not good news.
Update, 9:15 AM PDT: Boeing CFO James Bell told a Morgan Stanley conference that the DOD has canceled the procurement and an entirely new Request for Proposal process will begin. This is an important distinction from postponing the competition. See the last bullet point of our post of Bell’s presentation.
Update, 10:45 AM PDT: Here is the statement by Defense Secretary Robert Gates: