USAF used criteria GAO rejected in new DRFP: KC-30 backers

Update, December 8:

Bill Barksdale, Boeing KC-7A7 spokesman, emailed us with a response to this column. We have posted his note in the Comments section below.

Original Post:

The USAF used criteria in the current Draft RFP for the KC-X competition that had been rejected by the Government Accountability Office’s review of the Boeing protest last year, an analysis by prepared by EADS North America and Northrop Grumman asserts.

This unfairly tilts the current DRFP toward the Boeing KC-767 and is the basis Northrop why said it will not submit a bid unless major changes are made with the Final RFP.

The analysis was distributed to selected Members of Congress within the last 12 days. We obtained a copy of the analysis over the weekend. The Air Force is expected to receive a copy December 8 during a previously scheduled meeting with Northrop.

If the analysis is accurate, and it will naturally be questioned by Boeing and its supporters and probably disputed by the USAF, it may explain several recent statements at least in part:

  • Northrop claimed for many weeks that the DRFP was not a “down-the-middle” approach as claimed by the Air Force;
  • Northrop claimed the DRFP is tilted toward the smaller KC-767;
  • Northrop complained that rather than fixing the findings of the GAO that caused it to uphold the Boeing protest, the USAF had run an entirely new competition;
  • Boeing’s Graham Maffeo, VP and Supply Manager for all 7-Series programs except the 787, said October 15 that Boeing was “leaning” toward the KC-767 for its bid;
  • The Boeing IDS CEO said last week the DRFP tilted toward the smaller 767;
  • Boeing says it has no complaints about the DRFP; and
  • Boeing has stepped up its campaign that size matters, a theme from the 2007 competition, as recently as December 7 highlighting an opinion piece by a former USAF office involved in tanker operations.

What did Northrop/EADS conclude in its analysis of the DRFP? The companies note that Boeing filed complaints covering 111 items but the GAO upheld only eight complaints. Yet the USAF adopted the Boeing parameters of several of the GAO’s rejected findings to the disadvantage of the Northrop KC-30. A sysopsis:

Of the complaints by Boeing that were upheld:

  1. Boeing complained that the USAF did not value a large number of Boeing “discriminators.” The GAO upheld this complaint and Northrop says the USAF incorporated most of Boeing’s discriminators as mandatory requirements in the current DRFP while making Northrop’s discriminators non-mandatory;
  2. Boeing complained that the USAF awarded extra credit for exceeding objectives; now Northrop says the USAF doesn’t award extra credit for anything;
  3. Boeing complained the USAF gave too much credit for exceeding refueling objectives; Northrop complains the current DRFP makes this a non-mandatory requirement;
  4. Boeing complained the KC-30 could not refuel the Boeing-Bell V-22 Osprey; this now is a new, non-mandatory requirement;
  5. Boeing complained Northrop could not meet a customer support schedule (called ILS); Northrop acknowledges this schedule has been removed;
  6. Boeing complained the USAF improperly normalized MILCON costs (MILCON is Military Construction, or infrastructure); Northrop says new evaluation criteria has been established;
  7. Boeing complained the Air Force miscalculated the KC-767s fuel usage and associated MILCON costs; Northrop says the USAF changed the calculations to advantage the smaller aircraft;
  8. Boeing complained that the USAF “plussed up” its fixed price; Northrop says the new DRFP does not allow this.

Of the Boeing complaints the GAO rejected:

Northrop/EADS provides a long list which we won’t replicate here, with the underlying point that the USAF adopted Boeing complaints that the GAO rejected, which favor Boeing and disadvantage Northrop. Among these:

  1. The GAO rejected a Boeing complaint that the USAF valued the KC-30’s short-field performance yet the USAF now calls this a non-mandatory factor;
  2. The GAO rejected a complaint that the USAF unfairly lengthened Boeing’s delivery schedule; the current DRFP removed this entirely;
  3. The GAO rejected Boeing’s complaint that the USAF assigned Boeing an unacceptable high risk for its schedule but this risk assessment was removed from the new DRFP;
  4. Boeing complained the USAF’s past-performance criteria was unreasonable, a complaint rejected by the GAO; but the Air Force “significantly diminished” past performance in the current DRFP;
  5. Boeing complained the Air Force undervalued Boeing’s advantage in technical manuals, a complaint rejected by the GAO; Northrop says this is now a mandatory requirement and that Boeing’s design is specified.

Northrop/EADS assert that the current DRFP requirements are “written to a 767-derived tanker.” The companies also claim the USAF no longer requires wing-mounted refueling pods, something Boeing has had vexing difficulties with on the KC-767, now favoring instead the centerline hose-and-drogue system. Ironically, Boeing says it has fixed the wing pod issue and we’ve heard instead has difficulties with the centerline system–something Boeing declines comment on. Northrop notes that “some airspeed requirements for the wing-mounted pods have been removed,” citing the specific sections of the DRFP. This was an issue, for the wing pods on the KC-767 designed for the Italians had flutter problems above a certain airspeed. We were told by several sources, not connected with Northrop/EADS, that Boeing had to reduce the airspeed on the Italian tanker to eliminate the flutter. (Boeing denies this.)

It is clear that Northrop/EADS is working The Hill (Congress) to gin up support for its view that the current DRFP is written for Boeing’s KC-767. Northrop was quick to point to the IDS CEO statement at an investor’s conference last week that the DRFP tilted toward the 767 as validating Northrop’s complaint on this score.

We continue to maintain that there are solid strategic reasons to support a split buy. It is obvious on a political basis that a split buy is the only way the USAF is going to recapitalize its tanker fleet in a timely manner.

42 Comments on “USAF used criteria GAO rejected in new DRFP: KC-30 backers

  1. It appears to me that the Air Force can specify its needs clearly and try to reflect these needs qualitatively and quantitatively in the RFP.

    How they arrive at these criteria is their business and should not then serve as the basis for a protest.

    If these needs lead to a smaller plane, this is what was asked for. Because they wish a smaller plane does not mean that they are discriminating against larger planes. They are specifying their requirement clearly and both bidders have a chance to submit planes that come closest to this criteria

    • He, he.

      The Airforce knew what they wanted.
      And then Boeing complained.

      Funny how carefully choosing the
      keyhole view onto the run of history
      make such a difference.

    • What we are talking about is here:

      System Requirement Document (SRD) for KC-X 25 Sep 2009

      Look out for “1.3 Ground Rules”. The aircraft is going to be assessed without refueling pods or the LAIRCM anti-missile system. That implies the KC-X platform just has to reach the required offload capabilities without both systems or KC-X with both systems may not be able to offer the required offloads. Does that make that sense to anyone?

      Look through the SRD and you find many NON-MANDATORY requirements a KC-30 can fulfill but a KC-767AT can’t.

      Examples: The KC-X should aerial refuel current fixed-wing receiver aircraft compatible (including F-35 variants) with the KC-135 using criteria in paragraph at the KC-X maximum inflight gross weight. The KC-X should perform the fuel offload versus unrefueled radius range described in paragraph (from 500 nm to 2,500 nm) from a 7,000 ft dry, hard-surface runway (balanced field performance using FAA ground rules).

  2. Interesting article Scott. You couldn’t link a pdf of the document, could you? 🙂
    I can see no end to this tanker story…

  3. Those Airbus folks and their frontmen (NG) sure know how to whine.

    It should be clear (even to a politician) that the goal of this procurement is to replace the KC-135, and that the A-330 is too big to do that economically or logistically.

    NG and EADS should offer the A-330 for the next tanker procurement to replace the KC-10. However, they might lose that one due to the illegal subsidies given by the EU for A-330 development.

    Uwe: in the last bid, the Air Force did specify what they wanted — until McCain and company started to meddle with the procurement for political reasons.

    • John, you seem to forget that Boeing also tried to have the requirements set for them in 2007 also. McCain had to step in to make it a fair competition. Boeing lost, they never expected to lose. This time Boeing is making sure they don’t lose. The only problem, its too obvious stacked for them. Also, your comment about the A330 is too big as a replacement for the 135, is from the Boeing misinformation sheet. If it meets the mission at best value to us taxpayers, what is wrong with that?

  4. I worked as an analyst for KC-135 tanker operations for USAF during Desert Storm , and can say that the 135 was actually too big for most of our missions. We dumped millions of pounds of fuel in the desert in order to lighten the aircraft for landine.

    I now work as an Engineer for Boeing, and actually believe 737 would be a better airframe.

    • US and allied troops got bases really to close the border of Iraq. That was just good luck. How many KC-135 had to dump fuel during Enduring Freedom Afghanistan? How many KC-135 or KC-10 were involved there? Was KC-135 also too big for that distance?

      Maybe Maximum Landing Weight (MLW) of KC-135 is not much higher than spec Operating Empty Weight (OEW). Also most KC-135 can’t refuel other KC-135 still on orbit. So a backup mission had to fly back to base without the possibility to refuel the next tanker coming in the refueling zone.

      Your statement therefore might be somehow true but won’t tell anybody what the Air Force really needs. This is just a Boeing spin.

      Air Force rejected the A310-MRTT once as to small. Same for 737 I guess.

  5. Scott, a split buy remains an extremely tough sell. Maybe not to Murtha and the Alabama delegation, but to most Congress members and DOD it doesn’t have a lot of appeal.

    I’ll repeat my mantra of DOD-better-sole-source-to-Boeing-or-its-“war-without-end”. This is very close to getting into Federal District Court and that could set a very damaging precedent for all defense contractors, Northrup Grumman especially. With the exception of the next CVN, nothing is guaranteed for Northrup in the shipbuilding segment. How far do they want to take this? As for EADS, would they agree to set up a second line if they only get half the prize? I seriously doubt it. If they don’t, the “we’re-going-to-create _____(insert whatever number makes you feel good) -American- jobs” selling point goes away.

    IMO, Mr. Carter would do well to cancel the competition, and go sole source to the only aircraft that will survive a vigorous funding battle: the KC-767, or the KC-777.

    • You forget Aurora. Boeing had a sole source contract 6 years ago with no competition and they got their hands caught in the cookie jar. They lost any chance of that back then.

      • No, I didn’t forget. I had thought that the ridiculous repeating of the Darleen Druyun incident had run its course, but apparently not. I’ll tell you what, you go ahead with Darleen, I’ll stick with the UK government covering up bribery investigations, fair enough?

      • Aurora, Since you keep repeating your “sole sourcing” mantra, I decided to merely point out one of many reasons it won’t fly. Never mind the legal onslaught from Northrop Grumann (they still are a large and powerful american corporation, irrespective of what you may believe or think.
        If you think Boeing scored points with the GAO over the last competition, what do you think will be said about an award that suddenly gets handed out without a competition?!

        The more I think about it, the more I believe the Pentagon is doing this on purpose, so that the 4th and final competition will allow the Air Force to award the contract to NG/EADS with at best a very weak protest from Boeing.

        As far as the UK and bribery investigations is concerned, why should I be remotely interested in that?

        Is that somehow pertinent to this topic?

  6. When the initial tanker lease program was a borning in 2001-2, and BA had jacked up the ‘ cost’ plus the bribery games at that time unknown except to very few, Airbus in Dec 2001 claimed they could beat BA ” costs” by about 40 percent ( There is an old Wash Post article supposedly outlining that ). AT THAT TIME, Airbus had to have been counting on the Boeing overprice, PLUS the excessive subsidy game.

    What I do not know for certain is what baseline model did Airbus have in mind against the 767-400ER variant ? The civilian close match was at that time the A330-200 , both in commercial sales price and load and range.

    Yet a few years later, Airbus for ???? reasons, elected to go with a much larger airframe and much higher load capacity than had been asked for, and then claiming the program was ‘ sized” for the 767 variants.

    Sure looks like the same game again. DOES ANYONE have a rational explanation ads to why Airbus did NOT choose to go with a -200 variant ??

    for some comparison data as to price and CIVILIAN size- range- payload matches as of 2001

    See page 4

    • Hmm.
      “Why no A330-200 based offer”

      The A330 MRTT is based on the A330-200 airframe.
      KC-45 is an A330 MRTT with US markings 😉
      A330 twin and A340 4holer share a common
      wing with _4_ attachment points.
      This makes attaching outer refueling pods easy.
      ( compare to the continuing flutter probs Boeing seems
      to have with Italian tankers.

      I don’t know if offering the A310 MRTT (virtually same fuselage
      crossection with 100t less MTOW ) would have made
      sense in 2001..( The A310 was still in production at that time )
      Its popular with airforces that are less busy with projecting
      power as it doubles as (vip) transport, MEDEVAC, freighter, …
      the “Multi Role Transport” part of MRTT(anker) 😉

      The original Boeing leasing offer seems to have been
      one of those “get rich overnight” proposals.

      • Mr uwe . . .”The original Boeing leasing offer seems to have been
        one of those “get rich overnight” proposals. ”

        actually- the ORIGINAL lease ‘ offer’ concept was NOT pushed as a get rich scheme. early in 2001, BA had been pushing the 767 tanker version, but Airforce didn’t have the need or the funds to kicki off a replacement, and besides the normal budget-procurement cycle was/is about 3 plus years for such a large buy. Boeing had by that time certified the airframe to mil-spec, ran tests having fighters trail in refuleing positions, etc.

        911 changed EVERYTHING !

        A few days AFTER 911, Senator Stevens ( alaska ) contacted a non- management Boeing engineer, who had a UNIQUE background with the airforce, military, DOD, and every president from Nixon to Regan. he was also aware of the concept of military procurement of ” commercial” items as had been pushed by SEC DEF Packard. He was well known and respected by many high level administration officals thru and including the Clinton admin – to say nothing of most Boeing top brass. His name was Dan Hartley ( now deceased )

        Dan was a very close friend of mine, and we were in weekly and sometimes daily contact for a variety of reasons not pertinent here- now.

        Dan passed on the gist of his contact with the Senator about a week after it took place. Dan was given about 15 to 30 minutes to come up with a suggtestion(s) as to how to reduce the impact on airlines, boeing, and the industry in general, as Sen stevens was about to present some “placeholders” in legislation to get the ‘ bailout’/ or assistance moving. Dan cam up- with three basic issues. 1) Insurance for airlines, 2) was preserving jobs, especially those in 767 via a tanker leasing program which was nearing the end of its normal buying/production schedule, and I forget the details of the third issue.

        I suggest a check of congressional records in the sept-oct 2001 time frame will provide more details.

        The reason for the leasing had to do with being able to make certain funds rapidly available. And also at that time, Japan and Italy were in the finalm rounds of ordering a few tankers.

        What happened AFTER THAT is of course well known history- and largely due to the malfeasance of certain Boeing brass, including Rudy de Leon, who skated.

        How do I know all this ? I was at a few meetings re related discussions, between August 2001 and August 2002, including one in feb 2002 with Rudy and friends.

  7. CORRECTION . . . against the 767-400ER variant ? ..

    S/B . . . against the 767-300ER variant ? . . .



  8. Look, with this being a two horse race, and neither owner seeming willing to change horses or jockeys, any change is going to be met with “your trying to fix the race in favor of the other owner”.
    Like I have said numerous times before – it’s not so much the size of the aircraft being bid as it is how much you can do with the amount a ramp space you’ll occupy. If AMC is able to call the shots on this RFP, they are saying give me the ability to do more than the KC-135 can per square foot of parking required. The KC-10 can – on every front except booms. It can carry more fuel, pax, and pallets per square foot than the -135. But being larger than the -135, it has fewer booms. The real question between these two planes being bid is: who makes better use of its required real estate on the ramp, and how much weight does AMC want to put on booms per acre.

    The link Scott provided above about “size matters” is pretty much saying what I’m saying – but I won’t go as far as picking one because I don’t know how the numbers fall out. The writer is on target – he and I are looking at this with practical operational knowledge. I 100% agree that combat utilization is the USAF’s highest priority – pallets and pax are not as important ro the tanker mission when it is in combat.

  9. GasPasser, I concur. Didn’t a certain USAF general lament a year or so back that it was virtually impossible to write a neutral RFP when the characteristics of the aircraft are known beforehand? This effort, too, is doomed to failure. Competition will only result in further protests. As I noted above, I fear that this thing is going to bleed over into the Federal courts. When that happens, DOD has really lost control of the procurement process. As for the aircraft which makes better use of the existing infrastructure, I think the answer is obvious.

  10. Bill Barksdale, Boeing spokesman for the KC-7A7 program, emailed us with this message:

    I saw your posting on NG’s complaints and wanted to respond.

    – I’ve attached a transcript of our CEO’s comments at the Credit Suisse conference. As you can see below, he was asked which airplane we’d offer and he replied that the draft RFP requirements were pushing us towards a 767 tanker as a selection, but that we were ready to offer either the 767 or 777 tankers depending on the final RFP.

    Robert Spingarn – Credit Suisse – AnalystRobert

    Robert Spingarn: As the microphone works its way around, your competitor on tanker is considering abandoning its bid or not bidding, unless there are a few changes. What’s your view on the RFP? Where does Boeing stand? What do you think the timing is at this point, and how much do you think would change?

    Dennis Muilenburg – Boeing Company – IDS President and CEO

    So, we continue to be very engaged in tanker, obviously. The customer has set up a clear process for providing comments on the draft RFP. We’ve been very much engaged in that process and expect to continue to do so. We’ve elected to work within that process. I think we’re having a very constructive dialogue about the customer. We have raised some concerns about the RFP – things like the draft World Trade Organization ruling regarding illegal subsidies for Airbus. That is an issue that we’ve raised, and we believe it’s relevant to the tanker competition. So we’ve been able to raise our concerns, and we’ve been able to have what I believe is a very constructive dialogue with the customer. The fact is this next-generation tanker is very much needed by armed forces. And it’s incumbent on us to work with a customer to try to get that fielded capability as soon as possible. We also believe we have a strong offering. We’ve put a couple of options on the table, both ’67- and 777-based options, depending on where the customer wants to go with the requirements. And, between Jim Albaugh and I, we’re working very closely across the enterprise in our commercial and defense segments to provide a very affordable offering to the customer. So we’re ready to compete. And we expect to continue the constructive dialogue with the customer.

    Robert Spingarn – Credit Suisse – Analyst

    Just based on the RFP as written, which we’ve seen and I suspect a lot of you have seen, how can you bid a 777 for this RFP?

    Dennis Muilenburg – Boeing Company – IDS President and CEO

    So, again, to us– It’s important for us to let the customer finalize the requirements and for us to be responsive. If you look at the current RFP, as you noted, it would push us towards a ’67-based platform. And then, finally, again, we owe it to the customer to keep our solutions base open until the requirements are finalized, and that’s what we’re doing.

    I don’t recall ever saying that we don’t have questions and even concerns about the draft RFP. Rather, we’ve chosen to ask our questions and get feedback through the process. This has gone relatively unnoticed since we’re not out every week complaining about the Air Force’s requirements or threatening to quit a competition that has barely even begun. And highlighting an opinion piece seems quite short of any “campaign” about the size of potential tanker offers.



  11. How I indulge in this RFP fight, simply marvelous !
    The more repelling this RFP gets for Northrop Grumman/EADS, the better.
    This will protect them from committing the worst business mistake of the century.

    The sooner this ‘split buy’ nonsense stops, the better.
    Now even United Airlines feels obliged to ramble on a ‘split buy’ for their fleet renewal.
    Having two completely different aircraft in their fleet for exactly the same purpose, is hair-raising idiocy.
    This would result in mind-boggling logistics and maintenance costs.

  12. “Having two completely different aircraft in their fleet for exactly the same purpose, is hair-raising idiocy.”

    You mean like the 747-8i “cobuy” from A380 users?

    Maybe Airline management on accasion has better
    insight than the “desktop fly by night” people.

  13. Split buy is not going to happen. Forget the politics of the situation. It’s a budgetary issue. The USAF is in no position to buy 25-30 tankers a year within the near future, nor to support yet another separate training and logistics system.

  14. This is not about the tanker. It’s about maintaining a production monopoly in the U.S. My goodness, some of you are the same folks who think health care reform is actually about health care!

    • “maintaining a production monopoly in the U.S.”

      did you mean production competence and facilities?
      Any existing monopoly has imho been
      completely erased for some time.

      It would be quite interesting to know how much
      design and production competence for the Dreamliner
      is effectively available _in house_ at Boeing.

  15. What happens if the 787 comes nowehere close to the fuel savings it promised years ago? Especially the smallest version. Would customers start flocking back to the A330? Then the Airbus decision to go after the 777 would seem like a stroke of genius. Assuming they can deliver on their performance claims.

  16. The real problem with a split buy is that once dip below building around twelve frames per year for each airframe costs really start to skyrocket. This is because regardless of whether or not you build one frame or twelve frames you still have to maintain all of the fixed costs associated with each line, e.g. you need to spend a certain amount of money to keep the assembly plant running no matter how many frames you build. So say if it costs $500 million per year to maintain the production base for each aircraft you need to pay that fixed cost regardless of how many frames you buy.

    Now this is not such a huge problem if you have an existing production line and supplier base independant of DoD orders to foot the bill for this fixed costs. However, if you are NG/EADS and your proposing a new production factility and supplier base that would rely for the most part on the KC-X contract during the expected production run from around 2015 thru 2025 you have a huge problem. The Air Force would likely have to support the Alabama KC-30 production line and supplier base all by itself at some point in the future say around 2020, which could get very, very expensive.

    So the problem is that a split buy would only make some sort of economic sense if you used the existing production line and supplier base in Europe for the KC-30. However, if EADS did what makes the most economic sense in this case they would very quickly find Senator Sessions, Shelby and their other backers were no longer that interested in the KC-30’s “superior attributes” in this contest.

    From the DoD’s perspective the only way they would ever commit to a split buy with it’s potential pitfalls and uncertainity with respect to future costs is if Congress force them into a shotgun wedding with the concept. Split buys have worked out well for missiles and jet engines where you have dozens or hundreds of units per year to spread costs out, but they are a horrible idea for major platforms with low production rates.

  17. Shaggy: “Is that somehow pertinent to this topic?”

    Yes. It is relevant to the constant reference to the Darleen Druyun affair, in which a rogue employee committed a crime and was tried & convicted, the company acknowledge that one of its employees acted improperly and paid a hefty fine. On the other hand, we have one of the airbus governments willfully quashing an investigation into allegations of bribery between their largest defense contractor and a member of the Saudi royal family. Contrast the two and tell me again that the former is relevant to the procurement this time around.

    • So you think Mrs Druyun is the single spec of color
      on the otherwise lilywhite vest Boeing presents itself

      That imho is a surprisingly naive position.

      • So predictable. You just don’t want to let go of Darleen, do you? Why do you and airbus advocates constantly harp on that incident yet blithely ignore what is potentially one of the largest bribery cases in history–one involving a member government of airbus itself? That double standard won’t fly anymore. “lilywhite”? Hardly a year passes without some new airbus bribery allegation. Last time it was Taiwan, wasn’t it; or was it South Africa? Hard to keep track.

      • Aurora,

        Once again, I would like to point out that I had referred to a single incident that has occurred in the USAF Tanker procurement saga. Said incident has precluded Boeing receiving a sole source award. Something you don’t want to accept or even acknowledge.

        I am not listing for you the whole retinue of Boeing legal or ethical transgressions, merely the one that is pertinent to my point that Boeing will not get a sole source contract.

        The awarding of the USAF tanker contract to EADS/NG has nothing to do with the British Government (a firm and loyal ally of the U.S., one might add), British Aerospace (BAE Systems), the Saudis and a suspected bribery scam.

        And the British government is far from being the only government accused of covering things up.


      • And to top it all off, Darleen Druyun was not the only Boeing executive fired and imprisoned for their offences. You seem to have totally forgotten or ignored the Chief Finance Officer, Mr. Mike Sears.

        Sorry for ridiculously repeating the Mike Sears incident.

  18. @JayPee

    If the 787 would be considerably less efficient than expected (not very likely, in my view), this would reduce its future market chances to the same amount.
    But this anyway is not the main issue. Prospective customers will mainly look out for airframe stability problems (this patch on the 787 wings has yet to prove its viability).
    Everything what I say is still highly speculative, as the 787 still didn’t manage to absolve its maiden flight, and there is no data available at all.

  19. Shaggy: “The awarding of the USAF tanker contract to EADS/NG has nothing to do with the British Government (a firm and loyal ally of the U.S., one might add), British Aerospace (BAE Systems), the Saudis and a suspected bribery scam.”

    It is as relevant as the incessant and fatuous references to the Darleen Druyun saga. At least in that case, corrective action was taken. Now you referenced that misdeed, yet refuse to acknowledge one of the airbus partners covering up bribery by one of their own companies. Why? Too inconvenient a truth?

    If one is relevant, why not make the other one equally so?

  20. You folks out there might not realize that within Boeing (yes, I’m a Boeing engineer) there was an undercurrent of “We hired WHO to do WHAT? Is Boeing REALLY that STUPID??”

    So the Druyan “incident” was even internally viewed as “suspect”.


    IF the USAF decides what they WANT and one party doesn’t wish to participate, WHY should that form the basis for a contract objection (if indeed they decide to “no bid”)?

  21. OK, let me try this once again.

    Once upon a time, there was a process in work to award Boeing a sole source, without competition, contract to provide tankers to the USAF. For whatever reason, the process was converted into a competitive bid, which was eventually won by NG/EADS, and this award was successfully protested by Boeing.

    Now some people seem to be of the opinion that the Pentagon and the politicians can just turn around and devolve this competition back into a sole source contract without NG protesting and possibly/probably suing for damages.

    I am no legal expert but I do believe that NG would, in such a scenario, have an excellent case as they have already been awarded the contract, and through no fault of their own, had it taken away from them. To be suddenly shut out of the process for whatever reason would, I believe, give them excellent legal ammunition.

    Which, in a roundabout way, is the point of this post.

    By the way and as a matter of record, I never mentioned the women’s name. Someone else wanted to make that the issue, and ignore the point that was trying to be made about why reverting to sole source, for anybody, would be neither practical nor feasible.

    Hope I answered your question, Not Stupid.

    As for the whole UK, suspected, possible bribery issue, that is certainly Aurora’s perogative to make as big an issue of it as he wishes.

  22. “I am no legal expert but I do believe that NG would, in such a scenario, have an excellent case as they have already been awarded the contract, and through no fault of their own, had it taken away from them.”

    You are certainly no legal expert here. All major government contracts carry a clause that allows termination of the contract for the convienence of the government. When the last contract was exercised the government invoked this very clause and the last contract in no way has anything to do with the current competition. The only issue is with the termination of the last contract comes down to the question, is the government fairly compensating NG for the work performed under the last contract? NG and the government are still negotiating and NG may yet sue the government for offering insufficient compensation.

    Also, as far as the next contract goes, have you ever heard of something called “sovereign immunity”. Well in laymans terms it means you can’t sue the sovereign, or in this case the US government unless he let’s you. Therefore, NG can challenge the current contract on the basis that the government did not follow its own procurement rules, and unless their is a conflict with existing law or the constitution they can’t sue the government on the rules it chooses to utilize. Given, that I don’t see the current draft RFP violating the existing legal code or the US Constitution, that means NG would only have a case if the US Government violated it’s own critieria it has established for this contest. In order to sue on that issue though NG actually needs to stay in the contest, and claiming that the customer asked for a smaller airframe and got a smaller airframe does not a valid lawsuit make. The fact is the major risk under the current RFP for the Air Force is not legal, it’s political. Congress could force a split buy on the Air Force which may be what NG is hoping for, but legally, unless the AF runs a real cluster of a competition the way they did last time, NG does not have a lot of options.

    • “NG can challenge the current contract on the basis that the government did not follow its own procurement rules,”

      In the AESG Solicitation Provisions I read this:
      “1.1 Basis for Contract Award
      This is a best value source selection conducted in accordance with …”
      After that a description follows how Air Force is going to assess the offered aircrafts as tanker.

      Within the System Requirements Document I also find requirements for airlift and information management. Does Air Force also have other requirement besides aerial refueling?

      I think so as I read that


      and that

      “The Imperative for a New Tanker Now”

      I my opinion Air Force violates the rules for a “best value source selection” because Air Force is just looking at one assignment for the new KC-X and not at all.

      Air Force needs a study to show how the new KC-X will be used. According to this study each task has a ratio in the overall use of the KC-X. Without these figures the whole assessment process is a farce.

      Therefore I think NG/EADS will stay and sue.

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