Rumsfeld Puts Boeing Tanker Report On Hold
Boeing's hopes for a
big sale of modified 767s to replace the aging KC-135 tanker will
reportedly be on hold until at least November.
The Wichita Eagle reports a critical report on the Pentagon's
investigation into the tanker deal was supposed to have been
green-lighted by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last week.
But with the Iraq prisoner abuse investigation calling him to
Capitol Hill last week, the secretary had other things to deal
The Eagle reports Rumsfeld got a briefing on the Pentagon's
report last Monday, but made no decision to release the report --
much less go ahead on a deal for the lease/purchase of 100 767-200s
"Sooner or later both the military and the Congress are going to
have to come to a conclusion," said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS). He's
quoted as a supporter of the $23.5 billion program for the Air
Force to lease 20, then buy 80 tankers.
Boeing fired its chief financial officer, Michael Sears, and
former USAF Assistant Deputy Secretary-turned Boeing VP Darleen
Runyun, after learning that the two had talked about a lucrative
job for Runyun even as she headed the Air Force's tanker
negotiations, Boeing successfully got the Air Force to drop 19 of
26 objectives for the new-generation tanker, including the ability
to refuel more than one aircraft at a time. Airbus reportedly met
20 of the 26 objectives right off the bat, but still lost the
Last week, Boeing put an ad in several newspapers, including the
Wichita Eagle, pushing the conclusion of the tanker deal and
chiding those who argue against it. In response, Danielle Brian,
executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, wrote,
"This costly lease proposal has had little to do with helping the
nation's fighting men and women, and everything to do with padding
the bottom line of an already prosperous defense contractor."
Some members of Congress, which has already okayed the tanker
deal, are getting frustrated -- Sen. Roberts among them.
"We need to figure this out," he told the Eagle.