Part 2 of the Boeing focus for the USAF Aerial Refueling Tanker
Jan. 24, 2022, © Leeham News: Jim Albaugh was president of Boeing Integrated Defense System (IDS), now known as Boeing Defense, Space and Security (BDS) during the competition for the US Air Force’s KC-X program.
After 9/11 (2001), Boeing was reeling as US airlines canceled or deferred orders in the aftermath of the terror attacks in New York City and Washington (DC). Terrorists hijacked four airplanes (all Boeing, as it turned out) operated by American and United airlines. Then, US carriers dominated the world market as customers for Boeing and Airbus. Boeing was disproportionately affected, as it was the USA’s two biggest airlines that were victims of the terror attacks.
Boeing, never one to look overlook an opportunity (this is not a criticism), saw one to help carry it through the post-9/11 crisis. The Air Force’s Boeing KC-135 tankers—based on the 707 airframe—were aging. The last tanker was delivered in 1965—36 years before. A replacement was needed. But the Air Force, along with the other Armed Services, now had a war to fight. President George W. Bush sent the troops to invade Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden was holed up. Later, he expanded the war to Iraq on the theory Iraq was involved in 9/11 and developing weapons of mass destruction. Both theories later proved false.
The Air Force was pressed for money. So, Boeing offered to lease 100 tankers based on the 767-200ER for 20 years. The Air Force awarded the contract. But Sen. John McCain criticized the move as too costly to taxpayers. The investigation later revealed that the Air Force’s procurement officer improperly gave the contract to Boeing, and then went to work for the company. In the ensuing scandal, the officer and Boeing’s chief financial officer who gave her the job both went to jail. The lease deal was canceled.
A new procurement was launched. This time, EADS—the name of the Airbus Commercial parent at the time—joined with long-time defense contractor Northrop Grumman to bid against Boeing. Boeing offered a version of the KC-767. Northrop-EADS proposed a version of the A330-200 Multi-Role Tanker Transport.
As LNA’s series from the Airbus point of view reported, the competition was bitter. Both sides sharply criticized the other. Boeing and its surrogates and partisans weighed in heavily on (at the time) alleged illegal subsidies Airbus received, including for the A330.
In February 2008, the Air Force awarded the contract to Northrop-EADS, to the surprise of everyone; Boeing had been considered a shoo-in for the contract.
Albaugh, the IDS president, called this loss his biggest disappointment during his leadership at the defense unit.
In the debrief by the Air Force, Boeing learned for the first time the USAF had changed some of the parameters of the competition that gave Northrop the winning advantage. Boeing filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO upheld the protest. The Pentagon had to re-run the competition.
By this time, Albaugh left in 2009 to become president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. But Albaugh spent time with LNA to discuss the KC-X competition from Boeing’s point of view right through the Northrop win. He also provides observations about the coming KC-Y competition.
The details of this interview begin next week.
My new book, Air Wars, covers 35 years of global combat between Airbus and Boeing, including the KC-X competition. A listing or the chapters follows editorial reviews of the book.
Royal Aeronautical Society
Named to the Top 10 List of Aerospace Books for Christmas Choices, 2021
Puget Sound Business Journal
(Seattle area.) No. 1 on the Christmas list of aerospace books for 2021.
No. 1 on its list of Best New Aerospace eBooks to read in 2022.
Chris Sloan, The Airchive
“A worthy successor to ‘The Sporty Game,’” the 1982 book by John Newhouse, considered at the time to be the definitive book about the competition between Boeing, McDonnell Douglas and the emerging Airbus.
Dan Catchpole, Aviation Writer
Air Wars is a tour de force look behind the curtain of Boeing and Airbus’ global competition and, in part, a biography of Airbus’ head salesman, John Leahy, the man who forced Boeing’s hand to re-engine the 737. Longtime aerospace analyst and journalist Scott Hamilton takes readers through the twists and turns of the decades long battle between the two companies.
Dan Reed, Aviation Writer
Using John Leahy’s long and monumental career as a vehicle for telling readers about the 51-year battle between Airbus and Boeing is both and interesting and inspired choice by the author.
Air Wars is available in paperback and eBook form at Amazon and in paperback at Barnes & Noble.
1 THE MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR GAMBLE
2 FLYING CARGO
4 EARLY YEARS AT AIRBUS
5 HIGH RISK, HIGH REWARD
6 FACING OFF
7 THE DEATH OF McDONNELL DOUGLAS
8 WAKE-UP CALL
9 LAUNCHING THE A380
11 TROUBLE IN TOULOUSE
12 TRY, TRY AGAIN
13 FALLING APART
14 LABOR WARS
15 UPSTART AND DISRUPTOR
16 CREATING NEO
17 LAUNCHING MAX
19 THE X-FACTOR
20 SMASHING A BUG WITH A SLEDGEHAMMER
21 THE BOEING-EMBRAER JOINT VENTURE
22 LAST GASP
23 THE ALPHABET AIRPLANE
Very interesting that this LNA article lays a link with 9/11.
Then as now, BA was on its knees (much more so now), and “something had to be done” to throw it a lifeline.
This helps explain the GAO reversal during the last tanker contest.
On the subject of that same GAO, an interesting Forbes article about how the organization is somewhat “out of touch” on defense matters:
“Five Ways GAO Fails To Understand Defense Industry Independent R&D”
And another link (from a professor at Georgetown University) that calls into question the GAO’s “independence”. Note, in particular: “it works at the behest of the legislative branch and is beholden to them”.
Loren Thomson is a “mouthpiece”, a lobbyist cloaked as a think tank researcher. (are there others in that domain?)
i.e. what you see is what some paying customer wants to push onto the public.
Even if the piece was written by Mickey Mouse, you can still look at the argumentation employed and decide whether it seems sound or not.
If Loren Thomson says that “The Earth orbits the Sun”, are we to automatically discount that statement merely because it was made by Loren Thomson?
yes, we are to automatically discount such a statement… in truth the earth orbits the center of gravity of the earth/sun system with minor purturbations due to the moon, other planets and asteroids.
nothing is as simple as it seems.
And, seeing as the referenced center of gravity is located within the envelope of the sun, the original statement is true: the Earth does indeed orbit the Sun.
Things don’t have to be as complicated as some people (try to) make them.
@bryce – the point is – the fine print matters.
people like Loren Thompson make their money by spouting “facts” that are “true-ish” that deliberately mislead.
if people like Thomson are worth their money you will have to “knee deeper” into the pamphlet to find the squishy bits.
The credibility of the not so good “doktor” is nil.
Here are two examples:
Bryce said : “Even if the piece was written by Mickey Mouse, you can still >> look at the argumentation employed << and decide whether it seems sound or not.. "
Novel concept. I fully agree; in this dark time
when information that does not conform to
The (ruling-class) Narrative is labeled "mis/disinformation", to be censored for our Security™ and Protection™..
Who will watch over our Watchers (this is a very old question) ?
> ..a lobbyist cloaked as a think tank researcher. (are there others in that domain?) <
Heh, this is the Exceptional Nation you're talkin' about – everything is just as squeaky-clean as you
might imagine.. imagine imagine imagine imagine
The Alaskan correspondent has a different take downthread- please don't miss it. 😉
“This helps explain the GAO reversal during the last tanker contest.”
In fairness – the reversal of the award to NG/EADS can be explained by the fact that criteria were somewhat changed without Boeing being aware of it.
Now, why those criteria were again changed to favour Boeing’s offer in the last round is a different matter.
Scott and other analysts have already belabored this point before. They did not change the criteria to favor Boeing rather they re-evaluated the proposals to not award extra points to the NG/EADS that were not originally specified in the RFP as things they could receive extra consideration of.
In other words, they were not allowed to favour a company if they made a better product.
About 6 other areas where the contract award for Northrop Airbus was deficient apart from the bonus points awarded for exceeding the fuel – range offload requirement.
the ones that stood out for me were – ‘giving feed back’ to Airbus on deficiencies so they could alter their response but not treating Boeing equally and no response from Airbus ( even when reminded) on what was their plan to have a full maintenance system in operation around 2 years after firts planes delivery. None at all.
How’s that there KC-46A doin’ now, *twelve years* after award of contract ? “Almost ready” for limited service, or ?
Hint: we don’t need it- or its successor; if we did, those aircraft would be in service *now*.
The rich get richer, and ..
Well, at least one of the present Cat 1 deficiencies in the KC-46 isn’t expected to be solved until 2024…
You’ll be interested by the video in this link:
“Watch The Boom On Boeing’s Troubled KC-46 Tanker Nearly Smack An F-15E”
Interesting opinion article on the previous tanker contest:
“Boeing Regrets Victory Over AirBus”
Amusing text segment: “The new competition may find Airbus as the only competitor as Boeing may decline to compete, if only to avoid more bad publicity.”
That was a really dumb article.
It was: that’s why I referred to the text segment as “amusing”.
But it’s always interesting to harvest opinions. This particular one at least highlights the “no-win” pickle that BA got itself into, and also points out the “irony” of the fact that the losing bid in the US has become quite a successful bid elsewhere.
“Both theories later proved false.”
That is factually wrong for Afghanistan. Ben Laden was holed up there as well as planned the attack and launched them from there. The info shows it a 99.99% certainty he was at the battle of or at Tora Bora.
Iraq, yea, that was a classic smoke job.
“He is believed to have crossed the border into Pakistan sometime in January 2002 and spent time in various Al Qaeda safehouses in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan between January and April 2002.”
the theories referred to were Iraq making WMDs and Iraq helping with 9/11
9/11 was financed by Saudi nationals, perpetrated almost entirely by Saudi nationals, planned in Afghanistan by mostly Saudi nationals, and yet it seems nothing was ever done about the financiers and certainly Saudi Arabia sustained no negative consequences from the US.
Wars are good for the defense industry; however, wars against oil-rich nations are bad for general industry.
Also interesting to note that the Iraq war was illegal (not UN-sanctioned, and not in self-defense). But when another country tries to pull that same trick, there’s plenty of indignation. Lots of hypocrisy around.
IIRC, the security council approved it, but not the GA.
“The invasion of Iraq was neither in self-defense against armed attack nor sanctioned by UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force by member states and thus constituted the crime of war of aggression, according to the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in Geneva.”
Again I will challenge the term “USAF Changed” the terms.
They did not. The only way to change the terms is to publish them and let the bidders know what they were and to comment on those changes.
As this did not happen, it was not a change. It was a violation or corruption by EADS with the USAF. McCaine fingers were all over that.
Wow…so now we have a conspiracy theory in which the USAF is in collusion with EADS…fascinating…
You have to consider corruption when USAF Generals move to defense companies automatically after they (ahem) retire and the illegal moves that were made would work right into the Airbus Bribe scheme.
> As this did not happen, it was not a change. It was a violation or corruption by EADS with the USAF. McCaine fingers were all over that. <
Can someone parse the above sentence?
Also: who's McCaine (and for that matter, "Ben Laden") ?
Bin Laden’s Israeli cousin?
‘Gentle Ben’ Laden
Perhaps Jerry Laden’s brother? 😉
As I’ve noted previously, if BA can’t get at least a 15% pretax return on the KC-Y, just walk away. Let LM and AB “win”. I’m counting on them (producers of the F35 and A400M, respectively) to “screw up”, and both be sandbagged! (Money in the bank! LOL)
Is BA getting “at least a 15% pretax return” on recent MAX sales?
I’m not fully sure on Maxes (we’ll probably have some better idea once 2022 passes—assuming a post-Covid, return to normality) but I’m pretty damn sure BA shareholders would like some BA financial discipline and relief, after taking a colossal BILLIONS of dollars in losses on the KC-X!
Cue: Programm Accounting:
Simply offer the existing KC-X design for the same price per item plus inflation and then some.
Then just continue production and laugh all the way to the stockexchange.
Bin Laden’s Israeli cousin?