It’s been a while since we’ve talked about the KC-X tanker competition, which is coming to the forefront again with the issuance of the Interim Report on Boeing subsidies by the WTO.
- Flight International has this story citing Ralph Crosby, chairman of EADS North America, talking about costs and process in the competition.
- The Telegraph of the UK has this story about the boondoggle lease deal of A330 MRTTs for the Royal Air Force. A reminder of how lease deals such as that proposed by Boeing in 2001 for the USAF (and killed because of the pricing and improprieties) can be way too costly, the UK MRTT deal is also an example of how dopey specifications can ruin a good idea. The UK DOD didn’t require combat-ready specifications (note to critics: this wasn’t an Airbus failing but a Department of Defence failing) for the MRTT. The UK situation also is indicative of old tanker-transports in need of replacement, just like the US KC-135. Most notably of the parallels is this statement in The Telegraph’s story: But in an era of budget shrinkage, how we buy equipment is as important as what we buy. The AirTanker deal is only the most obvious example of a procurement process that takes too long, costs too much and, even then, doesn’t always give us what we’re supposed to get.
We won’t even get into the US Aerospace effort to compete for the KC-X. Given the financial instability of the company, we don’t consider this to be a credible bid even if it had met the deadline for submitting its bid or prevails in its protest that the USAF improperly excluded them from getting the bid submitted on time.