Update, Feb. 1:
The newspaper The Hill, which covers Capitol Hill, reports the USAF plans to award a contract for the KC-X this summer, sticking (more or less) to the timetable originally projected. Secretary Robert Gates also plans to urge President Obama to veto any FY2011 defense bill that contains funding for the Boeing C-17, which Gates cuts from the proposed budget.
We believe cutting funding for the C-17 is a mistake. We also believe the Administration ought to take Stimulus funds, double the KC-X procurement from 12-18 tankers a year (resulting in retiring the ancient KC-135s a lot faster) and split the contract between Boeing for the KC-767 and Northrop Grumman for the KC-30. In addition to the only political solution that will work, there are solid strategic reasons for the procurement to be split.
Taking Stimulus money to establish a new aerospace industrial base in Mobile (AL) while supporting the existing 767 program is far more productive than giving Stimulus money to things like a California dinner train.
Here’s a commentary from an outfit we’d never heard of before, the Forerunner Foundation. This op-ed piece appeared in the January 11 issue of Aviation Week magazine. The writer, Jerry Cox, makes an interesting point over the campaign by Boeing supporters to exclude the Northrop Grumman (Airbus) bid for the KC-X tanker.
The Boeing supporters want to exclude the Northrop tanker, based on the Airbus A330-200, because the WTO found in an Interim Report that Airbus violated WTO rules. The final report is expected to ratify the Interim findings. The Boeing supporters assert that any company that is found to have violated WTO rules should be excluded from the competition.
We have long taken the position that we fully expect the WTO to find Boeing violated rules, too, when its Interim Report against Boeing is issued, a timeline now set for June. Therefore, we have argued, both companies would be excluded from competing from the KC-X competition if the Boeing supporters got their way. This is, of course, ludicrous. The only other company producing jet aerial refueling tankers is Russian. (Lockheed produces the KC-130 turbo-prop tanker.)
Cox trumps our argument. He notes that the only company so far found guilty of violating WTO rules is…Boeing. Read his article; it puts an interesting perspective on things.