Says Boeing, Northrop/EADS Should Each Win
It wouldn't be the most cost-effective solution... but it may
just be the best possible hope for peace in our time, at least when
it comes to the US Air Force's problematic call for a new
generation of aerial refueling tankers.
The chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee,
Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha, renewed his call Monday for
the Pentagon to consider splitting the $35 billion KC-X contract
between Boeing and a consortium made up of EADS and Northrop
Grumman. "I'm trying to figure out a way to convince the secretary
of defense to at least look at two airplanes, or both of them,"
Murtha told Reuters following a tour of Boeing's widebody aircraft
production facility in Everett, WA Monday.
Murtha's statements are direct affronts to the Pentagon, which
has been adamant that one aircraft would be the most cost-effective
solution for taxpayers.
Alas, two previous rounds of bidding -- the first awarded to
Boeing, the second won by EADS -- failed to reach fruition. Last
year's contract was pulled by the Department of Defense over
GAO concerns about miscalculation of true operating
costs for the EADS-sourced KC-45A, while the original
2002 Boeing win was retracted after revelations of a full-on
procurement scandal came to light.
In the meantime, over seven years of indecision on KC-X have
left Air Force leaders with little alternative other than to
continue flying their aged KC-135 tankers... and possibly sticking
pins in their
Darleen Druyun dolls.
The Congressman's solution to split the deal may not be the most
elegant way to resolve the KC-X quagmire, but it might score points
for being the most pragmatic. "My decision is not where the
contract goes, but to come up with the money to pay for the
contract once the Air Force makes a decision," said Murtha. "We are
trying to come up with ways to get the military to make a decision
Murtha called for a contract split last month, when he visited
the Northrop/EADS facility in Mobile, AL where final assembly would
take place on the Airbus A330-derived KC-45A, alongside the
A330-200 Freighter. Boeing's KC-767 would be built in Everett, with
final outfitting being done in Wichita, KS.
The Congressman concedes other decisions must be made before the
DoD tackles KC-X... specifically, whether the Pentagon will
continue funding for the F-22 Raptor advanced fighter aircraft.
As ANN reported, President Obama is expected
to make that decision sometime before March 1.
Dealing with the KC-X mess would be easier, Murtha said, "If we
can get the F-22 out of the way. I don't mean to cancel the
program... We fund it or get rid of it, one way or the other."