Split tanker buy: Murtha

He didn’t get much notice last year when he said it, but US Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), a key member in the House and generally one sympathetic to Boeing, is urging a split buy between Boeing and Northrop Grumman for the KC-X.

George Talbot of The Mobile Press-Register has this story. Aviation Week has this report.

Update, 10:20 AM PST: With SPEEA, the Boeing engineer’s union, recommending rejection of the company’s best and final offer, SPEEA put out a statement that included this paragraph; we wonder what Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback and Kansas Rep. Todd Tiahrt think about this–they are among the most vociferous boosters of Boeing’s KC-767 offering for the USAF KC-X:

Work at Wichita includes Italian and Japanese 767 tankers, E-4B (747 Airborne Operations Center) and E-737 Australian Wedgetail (Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft). The Italian tankers and Wedgetail are years behind schedule. While union members worked with management to secure the contract for the next aerial refueling tanker, the company refuses to commit to bringing the work to Wichita if Boeing secures the $35 billion contract with the Air Force.

4 Comments on “Split tanker buy: Murtha

  1. Hmmmm, this is the man who threatend to turn off the funding if the Air Force went ahead with awarding the contract to Northrop (and Airbus). Now he is advocating a split. If I recall, he vehemently stated that the Pnetagon had got it wrong. i.e. Implying that the Northrop/Airbus offering was not up to snuff.

    Question is, why the change of heart?

    Perhaps he truly is interested in what is best for the military. Or perhaps he saw that Boeing was going to lose any recompete.

    In any case, he certainly isn’t making any friends with Boeing and its backers with this change of tack. This goes directly against their whole startegy for this contract (to lock Airbus out of North America).

    While Northrop et al would love to get the whole deal (both packages), I am sure they would be well satisfied with half.

  2. From Press-Register:
    “One thing I learned today is you’re not just talking about a tanker here, you’re doing a cargo plane with it. That was impressive to me.”

    He only found that out now?

    This tanker competition is turning into a really bad soap opera. I cannot see a winner here since there will be a protest after every announcement, that is guaranteed. USAF, should just save some money by converting the E into R models of the existing tankers and see what happens in the future.

  3. A “split” purchase may solve the political/industrial debate, but at the expense of the US taxpayer. (Apparently, the best of Northrop-Grumman and it’s Alabama supporters softened Rep. Murtha allowing tax money to flow their way… all the way to Europe. Additionally, doesn’t he know KC-135, KC-10, KC-767 carry cargo too? )

    For the long term two quite different airframes with different flight characteristics, requiring separate flight and maintenance training, different spares, larger tarmac space, runways and hanger expansion will be a big distraction to our war fighters…

    In this period of extreme national financial hardship minimizing tax dollar spend should be paramount.

    (For that matter, why not re-engine and maintain the rest of the existing KC135’s for at least another 10 years.. A new tanker “for the sake of our war fighters,” is simple rhetoric.)

  4. #1 A competitive split buy is not necessarily cheaper. If the team to build their first order on time and on budget gets bulk of future contract, in the long run this can be far cheaper. So many single source orders experience massive overruns.

    #2 A split buy employes 100,000 people nationwide…starting in May of 2009. Otherwise with appeals we are years away. Even Boeing 767 lines would love to be back to work in May.

    #3 The US Airforce now runs 3 types of tankers. It will take years to phase in KC-X, so instead of 4 types they have 5. That’s only 20% more in terms of different maintenance teams. No problem for the AIR FORCE of the US. Hire more airmen if needed. Lets put America to work and see who can deliver the best plans. Let’s compete and build Boeing and Northrop planes.

    #4 Northrop is not french. Northrop is US and builds the B-2 Bomber. Both planes have some foreign parts….even Boeings.

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