Voice of Watergate Past: Tanker date may be “inoperative”

It never ends.

Reuters has this story that the tanker award date may slip from the November 12 dated, but we shouldn’t be surprised, since we suggested as much quite a while ago.

What caught our attention is the wording of the USAF statement, as reported by Reuters:

The decision will be in the fall,” Lt. Col. Jack Miller, an Air Force spokesman, told Reuters Friday. “What I gave you is the latest, and corrects and clarifies any previous statements.”

This reminds us of Nixon Whitehouse Press Secretary Ron Ziegler at the height of Watergate, when he said something along the lines, “This is the operative statement. All the previous ones are inoperative.”

Meanwhile, Israel’s IAI Bedek got its Boeing 767-200ER aerial tanker conversion flying for testing, as reported by Flight International. It’s for Columbia’s Air Force.

36 Comments on “Voice of Watergate Past: Tanker date may be “inoperative”

  1. It is interesting that IAI seems to have no problems with the wing pods on their B-767MMTT conversion.

  2. Nothing should surprise us about this award process. Mid term elections will now be an influence and following that post election readjustment will be an influence. When and how the decision gets made and whether there will be a protest following that, is just part of this ongoing saga.

  3. Reminds me of a scene from an classic old movie- from a Broadway play Mr Roberts – with James Cagney as the captain of a cargo ship . Having given some conflicting orders to a previous ” command” – Cagney says ( paraphrased ) ” Forget what I told you ( before ) . . . NOW I’m telling you !! ”

    Since that was about WW2- maybe its deja vue all over again !

    • Aurora :
      DOD brought this on themselves by extending the date.

      Whatever. Since you want Boing to win, no matter what, of course you didn’t want the DOD to extend the deadline by 60 days.

      A more reasonable analysis would likely conclude that the current KC-X competition is run on an accelerated schedule. Last time around the required proposal due date was April 12, 2007 (NG proposal submitted on April 10, 2007), and 10,5 months later, on 29 February, 2008, the DoD announced their choice of the Northrop Grumman/EADS KC-30. This time around, only some four months are set aside for the bid evaluations. Even if this should be extended by a couple of months you’d still have a significantly shorter bid evaluation period than last time around. Your “complaints” therefore, are just like a storm in a teacup, and with no substance to them.

      http://www.irconnect.com/noc/press/pages/news_releases.html?d=117090

      As for US Aerospace, they know they couldn’t present a credible offer and that they were utterly incompetent in not showing up at the Wright Patterson AFB some 24 hours before the deadline. Running around at the entrance when the proposals were due is just plain silly.

      For any nutty conspiratorialist, the actions of US Aerospace could perhaps be viewed in a much more sinister light and in such a way as to suggest that US Aerospace had this all planned from the beginning, and that their scheme is just to extort a couple of million dollars from the DOD. 😉

      • “A more reasonable analysis”? That’s nonsense and ignoring the obvious. Had DOD stuck with the original deadline they would have a tanker now. It just wouldn’t be the one you prefer.

  4. KC135TopBoom :
    It is interesting that IAI seems to have no problems with the wing pods on their B-767MMTT conversion.

    Well, unlike Boeing, IAI was clever enough not to cannibalize KC-130s for their stubby low-speed pods.

  5. So, Aurora, you’re saying that the bid evaluation period is not highly compressed?

    Aurora :Had DOD stuck with the original deadline they would have a tanker now.

    LOL!

    Any “new” generation KC-X tanker fleet won’t be operational until around 2017, at the earliest. A couple of months added to the bidding deadline and the bid evaluation period won’t impact the KC-X fleet’s initial operational readiness, regardless of what Boeing’s rabid supporters might be saying.

    Trying to make this into some sort of personal preference is pretty silly, really. 😉

    Now, if the Air Force had not let themselves be tricked by into that bogus leasing deal by Tricky Dicks, Dennis Hastert and the late Ted Stevens back in 2001, and had insisted that they would only pay as much for a “green” 767 (before being converted into a tanker) as what Boeing was charging its most important civilian customers for a 767 (i.e. below $80 million per frame; below $65 million for a “green” frame], the Air Force just might now have some sort of an operational tanker with an initial fleet operational capability, albeit with serious flutter isssues hampering operations.

    • OV-099: “So, Aurora, you’re saying that the bid evaluation period is not highly compressed?”

      No, you did.

      I am saying that DOD would have had a tanker by now if they had not extended the deadline to all your airbus back into the competition. That is beyond dispute. You don’t like it, but it is fact. The KC-767 would have been sole sourced (which may happen eventually anyway).

      Now, they are reaping the whirlwind. Protests, protests, and more protests ahead. They can’t even predict when they’ll make a source selection.

      War without end.

      • Not wanting to be pedantic, but I was saying that the bid evaluation period is being run on an accelerated schedule. You are not answering the question.

        As for not being able to bid, back in 2002 the Air Force gave Airbus 12 days to bid on a contract where the specifications had already been written to suit the 767. However, Airbus managed to submit a proposal within that 12 day period for 100 tankers and with an offer which was apparently $10 billion less than Boeing’s.

        What the extension gave EADS this time around was the ability to submit a proposal that not only is competitive with Boeing’s, but substantially better as well.

        As for protests; this is not an open ended situation. If EADS wins on merit, Boeing files a protest with the GAO, and if the GAO would deny Boeing’s claims and find nothing wrong with EADS’ offer, Boeing will then have an ever harder time “protesting”. The tanker “issue” will then move into the political sphere where it remains to be seen how effective the Boeing lobby truly is.

  6. Since you don’t get the point, it bears repeating: were it not for the deadline extension, DOD would not be dealing with protests and would have had a source selection.

    They brought this on themselves. No amount of “what if” wishful thinking can obscure that fact.

    • With all due respect, you sound like a broken record.

      Again, it is well known on this site that you’re adamantly opposed to EADS getting a significant industrial foothold within the US military industrial complex. You want Boeing to win, no matter what, which is fair enough. However, it seems to me that what you’re doing is to spread FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) about both the DOD (and the “position” they are supposedly in) and EADS. Your “point” about the deadline extension is much ado about nothing. Deadline extensions are routine within state and federal procurement agencies. Using the amateurs at US Aerospace to further your aims is nothing but ridiculous. You’re saying that “they brought this on themselves” which seems to indicate that the Air Force is somehow in “dire straits” and that there is nothing but trouble ahead for the Air Force/DOD; which of course is your interpretation of things. By saying that this is war without end, you’re not only spreading doubt and uncertainty about the tanker procurement and thereby making things worse than they really are, but obviously this seems to be in the best interest of Boeing for the time being (according to you).

      Any reasonably objective observer might just conclude that your arguments are based on a position that Boeing is “weak” and must be “protected” at all costs, since what you seem to fear the most is an open competition based on merit.

      Again, it’s fair enough wanting a sole source contract for Boeing on the KC-X based on your assumption that this somehow is of vital importance for keeping the US industrial base healthy, but unfortunately for you that train left the station a long time ago. After the lease deal collapsed based primarily on Boeing corporate greed, and after EADS was invited to bid in 2002 and with NG in 2007, the US government cannot for geopolitical reasons (i.e. trade, long term viability of US military exports etc) now suddenly shut EADS out of the competition. What is surprising though is that most of Boeing’s supporters seem to be utterly unaware of this fact while the key decision-makers within the federal government are keenly aware of the fact that the pandora’s box has long since been opened.

      Denying EADS an extension without having very good grounds to do so (i.e. that such a move would be unprecedented, which it is not), was simply not an option for the DOD. Catering to the Boeing lobby on this matter was apparently not viewed by the DOD as being of very high priority.

  7. OV-099: “Denying EADS an extension without having very good grounds to do so (i.e. that such a move would be unprecedented, which it is not), was simply not an option for the DOD.”

    Hardly. It would have been expedient, but then we’re dealing with the french, no strangers to expediency themselves.

    You seem to be very distressed by the fact that this procurement is unfolding along very predictable lines. Protests were/are inevitable as is the inevitable political involvement.

    DOD did itself no favors by extending the deadline; they are now reaping the consequences. And these are merely the “known unknowns”. When the “unknown unknowns” enter into the picture, this procurement could very well unravel, like the last one did. Ultimately, they will realize that a sole source is the only way to get a tanker. I don’t see that sole source going to the euro plane.

    War without end, indeed. But don’t upset yourself over it; its only going to get worse.

    • Yeah, I,m really really distressed………………………….. Not! ROTFL 🙂

      Aurora :Hardly. It would have been expedient, but then we’re dealing with the french, no strangers to expediency themselves.

      Ahh yes, the nasty, french bogeyman once again…. 🙂

      As for the “protest” filed by US Aerospace’s, I can’t seem to recall that you back in March/April ever predicted that someone calling themselves US Aerospace would play and interestingly, now you’re using their pathetic complaint in an attempt to bolster your claims that is unfolding along very “predictable” lines, and that the DOD is now supposedly reaping the consequences of granting an extension since they have to “fight” US Aerospace. You’ve got to be kidding.

      Perpetual war this is not. At best it’s close to the end, at worst it’s the beginning of the end.

      As I’ve said, if EADS wins and Boeing is not successful at the GAO, this would move into the political sphere. Instead of spreading FUD and allege that “it’s only going to get worse”, you should get your popcorn ready as it could be highly entertaining with Tricky Dicks & Co. trying to stop EADS dead in the tracks.

      • Another errant post and as usual, wrong.

        Massive contract + two or more bidders = conflict. Now its happening.

        It will continue.

        DOD/USAF seriously miscalculated and will pay the price. This procurement could yet blow up in their face like the last one.

        Of course nothing lasts forever. But this tanker procurement now straddles three administrations (2 W, 1 O) and could likely go on to a fourth. Don’t make the assumption that a Republican congress is going to prefer airbus. The next congress may very well be more populist and protectionist than any we’ve seen since the 1930s.

        All this is unfortunate as DOD would have had a source selection, but the administration needed to appease Sarko. They brought all this on themselves.

      • That’s funny, accusing others of making errant posts while making an errant claim yourself:

        Debunking your fallacy:

        Mega massive contract: JSF airframe.
        Two bidders, LM and Boeing (airframe).
        No “conflict” (airframe).

        You should have said:

        Much less massive Pentagon contract than the JSF + two bidders where one is not of US origin = conflict; even when the latter offeror would be offering better hardware and a better deal.

        As for a GOP controlled Congress; could you point out where I’ve supposedly said, or inferred, that the isolationists and protectionists on the paleoconservative right would “prefer” Airbus? The question here is if the isolationists and protectionists from both sides of the aisle will have enough clout to stop EADS dead in the tracks. As I’ve said, that remains to be seen.

        However, what might stop the KC-X program is the new reality for the US national-security budget; where the level of spending is under a level of scrutiny and pressure not seen since the end of the Cold War, and could fall “victim” to the anti-establishment, anti-spending agenda of the Tea Party movement, and especially so if the democratic left would join in the “cause” (as in regard to Pentagon spending levels).

  8. Aurora :
    Another errant post and as usual, wrong.
    Massive contract + two or more bidders = conflict. Now its happening.
    It will continue.
    DOD/USAF seriously miscalculated and will pay the price. This procurement could yet blow up in their face like the last one.
    Of course nothing lasts forever. But this tanker procurement now straddles three administrations (2 W, 1 O) and could likely go on to a fourth. Don’t make the assumption that a Republican congress is going to prefer airbus. The next congress may very well be more populist and protectionist than any we’ve seen since the 1930s.
    All this is unfortunate as DOD would have had a source selection, but the administration needed to appease Sarko. They brought all this on themselves.

    I agree Aurora. Many, including some of the more colorful Airbus cheerleaders on this board, assume, wrongly in my view, that a Republican dominated House will automatically swing the favor a (Meaning just one guys) southern state who want an taxpayer funded Airbus factory. Let’s ask the Kansas and South Carolina Republican dominated congressional delegations how accurate that assumption is…

    • Hi Joanne,
      the various administrations not being able to retreat from a partisan no holds barred fight and turn to a decission based process matching offerings to objective requirements is what turns us foreigners off.
      ( AND it was two GOP oriented administrations that excelled in fact invention and goal post races. Nothing to expect there, IMHO )

  9. Uwe :
    Hi Joanne,
    the various administrations not being able to retreat from a partisan no holds barred fight and turn to a decission based process matching offerings to objective requirements is what turns us foreigners off.
    ( AND it was two GOP oriented administrations that excelled in fact invention and goal post races. Nothing to expect there, IMHO )

    Then it’s a good thing that you’re not voting in our elections huh? 🙂

  10. OV-099, you still can’t get your mind around the subject, can you?

    This conflict will go on as long as DOD keeps trying to “compete” this procurement. It doesn’t matter if there is two, three, or more.

    Only a sole source will stop this nonsense. Unfortunately, that means end of the line for your beloved airbus tanker.

    • We are getting places, finally!

      Sole source from Boeing it will be.
      Remaining open question : 2015 or 2020 ?

      This then will be final proof that the US-government
      is not able to stand up to national industry shenanigans.

      Simultaneously any global standing the US has
      respective free and fair trade evaporates.

      • Any less so then the EU can stand up to EADS/Airbus pressure or “shenanigans” as your have so vividly put it. I’m sure you are just as upset at the French government for already saying that they’ve sole sourced their next tanker. And that source isn’t the American offering.

    • Actually, what is at issue here is your silly interpretation that this supposedly is a perpetual “conflict”. It will be interesting to see whether or not Boeing and the Boeing lobby once again will overplay their hand in case EADS wins and instigate a “conflict”. You believe that the “conflict” can’t be resolved unless EADS is disqualified and Boeing is given a sole source contract. OK fine, I digress. If EADS wins, the likelihood of a dual sourced contract will substantially increase, and that’s just one of several possible outcomes.

      Finally, perhaps you should generally start spesking less in absolute terms; and not only about how this thing will evolve, as it reveals only ignorance or mis-interpretation of reality on your part.

      • Well, we’re making progress. Your rants are down to a mere two paragraphs ad hominum attacks and nonsense.

        As long as DOD competes this thing, there will be conflict.

      • No, that’s not an ad hominem attack.

        Only mathematicians are able to make statements with absolute certainty. Once a theory is proved, it is proved forever, and cannot be refuted.

        You are stating with seemingly absolute certainty, or virtual certainty, that this thing will end only if, or when Boeing is given a sole source contract; seemingly precluding doubt of any other outcome. Implying therefore, on my part, that when one is subscribing to such a level of absolute certainty, it only reveals ignorance or mis-interpretation on the person who is so certain about an outcome of a future event. Therefore, this was not an ad hominem attack as it was highly relevant to the logical merit of your argument.

        Of course, it’s a well known debating trick to accuse others of ad hominem attacks even when it’s clearly not so.

  11. Uwe: “Simultaneously any global standing the US has
    respective free and fair trade evaporates.”
    Good grief. Then we’re just like Germany and France with respect to coddling their own defense infrastructure. Scary.

  12. Joanne :
    Any less so then the EU can stand up to EADS/Airbus pressure or “shenanigans” as your have so vividly put it. I’m sure you are just as upset at the French government for already saying that they’ve sole sourced their next tanker. And that source isn’t the American offering.

    You seem to be unable to grasp certain concepts of fairness.

    Neither did France lecture the world on free trade nor did they go for
    an international procurement process and then massively intervening in
    the process to acertain the selection of the local champion.

    My guess is nobody would have batted an eyelid if the US had limited
    the selection to US manufacturers only. But they did not.

    Now as a nation stand by your word or rightly loose face.

    • How ominous, “stand by your word or rightly lose face”!

      I prefer Keynes perspective: “when the facts change, I change my mind”.

      What was a great system for buying things several decades ago, no longer works now.

    • Okay, I bet that most Americans will gladly “loose face” rather then let this contract go overseas.

      • Hmm, there is no bet there.

        most Americans are too self centered to grasp the effects of “being unwilling to take your own medicine” that you forcefully prescribed for every body else to take.
        Opposition to “unregulated markets” will rise, more (military) force will have to be applied with vastly diminishing returns.
        Look at recent politics( $60b sales to the Saudis ):
        You have to act towards creating a major conflict just to gain some exports and that only in a niche where the US is still able to compete.

  13. Please, lets maintain a sense of decorum on this matter, casting aside patriotisem & strutting around with a puffed out chest shouting the merits or otherwise of the two prime contractors.

    Forget subsidy claims & missguided loyalties theres no bogeyman here, just two manufactures dueling for an important defence contract, it just seems the encumbent supplier finally has a genuine fight on it’s hands in providing what the USAF needs.

    Leeham, must stand back in anticipation to their news bullitins concerning the USAF IFR contract, if only for a good chuckle at the number of inane responses in generates.

  14. Uwe :
    Hmm, there is no bet there.
    most Americans are too self centered to grasp the effects of “being unwilling to take your own medicine” that you forcefully prescribed for every body else to take.
    Opposition to “unregulated markets” will rise, more (military) force will have to be applied with vastly diminishing returns.
    Look at recent politics( $60b sales to the Saudis ):
    You have to act towards creating a major conflict just to gain some exports and that only in a niche where the US is still able to compete.

    Uve,

    Your lack of understanding of of America in general and Americans, in particular, is breathe taking. You can criticize the U.S. all you want, but your beloved Airbus is not initialed to this contract, as you seem to imply.

    • Oh and the United States is second only to Germany (You must love that) as the largest exporting nation, according to Wikipedia.

      • China has overtaken Germany 😉

        And notice Germany has ~80e6 people while the US has ~300e6. Additionally
        the US is exportwise unable to match their imports. Observe that Germany having a large excess in exports has its own problems. The idea is to have it balanced.

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