More bizarre twists in the tanker saga

Update, 10:00AM PDT: Defense News has this item that adds more to this increasingly goofy story. A firm named World Aviation Maintenance Co. from Omaha, Neb., is identified as the US company involved in this story–but Google does not provide any “hits” on this firm and neither does the web-based telephone directory.

Original Post:

George Talbot of The Mobile Press-Register has this bizarre twist in the KC-X tanker saga: a Russian official with United Aircraft Corp. says he doesn’t know what the California attorney purporting to represent UAC is talking about when it comes to the report last week that UAC will enter the tanker contest. Yet the attorney provided documents to Talbot backing up his claim. Read the story here.

Reuters has its own story, aligned with Talbot’s, that is datelined Moscow. Reuters goes much farther than Talbot in UAC’s denial of the reports because their reporters were able to talk to more Russian officials.

The announcement, if there is one, is supposed to come today.

Separately, we note that the 90 days delay in the deadline to respond to the FRFP requested by EADS, if the Department of Defense grants one, moves the date from May 10 to August.

We note that this extension goes beyond the expected June date the World Trade Organization is to issue its Interim Report on the European complaints about “illegal” subsidies to Boeing. The Europeans, EADS and Northrop Grumman (when it was still in the competition) complained mightily that the WTO was dawdling on issuing the Boeing subsidy report while the Final Ruling on the US complaint against Airbus subsidies was coming out earlier. (In fact, the ruling is coming out tomorrow, March 23.)

With an extended RFP deadline, should this happen, the Europeans and EADS will be able to point to the expected findings that Boeing also benefited from illegal subsidies, presumably off-setting those found illegal by the WTO against Airbus.

Boeing supporters already have their talking points on this: they will say that any subsidies to Boeing that are found illegal pale in comparison to those found illegal to Airbus.

When the WTO found Airbus has illegally benefited, the Boeing supporters asserted that any company found doing so should not be allowed to compete for the KC-X contract. We warned at the time this would be a bad line of reasoning based on the expected Boeing will also be found to have benefited from illegal subsidies. We facetiously suggested that only one left with a tanker to submit a bid would be the Russians and its IL-76 aerial tanker. (Military aircraft are exempt from WTO rules.)

Little did we know….

3 Comments on “More bizarre twists in the tanker saga

  1. The Friday afternoon “tanker surprise” will continue for as long as DOD allows this competition to drag out. They can end it with a simple, “no modifications will be made to the RFP”, or they can continue to look like the south end of a horse.

  2. Will there be any finality to this ongoing process. Extensions are being requested and WTO findings will start to complicate the international politics. It is an continuing saga that keeps on facing requests and extensions.

    This is truly an amazing reflection of the military acquisition program and its politicization

  3. Perhaps the Russians are only pretending to bid so they can glean information about US air capabilities? I remember during the Cold War the Soviets would go round trade shows picking up every leaflet and sample they could lay their hands on.

    Just a thought.

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