Update, May 4: Veto threat over split tanker effort: read all about it.
Update, May 3:
US Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), chair of a House appropriations committee, has dropped (for the moment) his effort to insert into the FY2010 budget language requiring a split buy between Boeing and Northrop for the KC-X tanker. See this story.
Well, blow us down. Loren Thompson, the defense analyst, now favors a split buy.
He’s been all over the map on this procurement. A big defender of the Boeing KC-767 lease deal when that was on the table. For the KC-767 vs. the Northrop KC-30. Defending the KC-30 award after it was given. Supporting the Boeing protest. Now this.
Followers (including this column) of Thompson, who is quoted frequently as a defense expert, respect his thinking but can’t help be a little baffled on this program.
Thompson’s rationale is what we’ve been advocating since we began following the competition several years ago: split the buy for operational reasons. The two tankers are differently sized: some missions are better suited for the KC-767 and some are better suited for the KC-30. Double the procurement, retire the old KC-135s more quickly.
On the other hand, US Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Boeing/WA), claims he was quoted out of context by KIRO TV a while back, which reported Dicks could “live with” a split buy. Now Dicks is back on his sole-source band wagon (for Boeing), even though Boeing now is fine with the idea.
And now, a plug for our Eco-Aviation conference. More information may be found here.