Thu, Dec 02, 2004
The Air Force wants arch rivals
Boeing and Lockheed to play in the same sandbox and play nicely.
The USAF has asked the two aerospace giants to cooperate on
launching classified payloads, according to a report from
In your dreams, say sources within the launch industry.
The two companies are locked in legal combat over
the EELV document debacle. Two Boeing employees have been indicted on charges
of stealing Lockheed documents pertaining to the EELV launch
contracts. Now, Lockheed lawyers want a word with
former Boeing Vice President Darleen Druyun to see what she knows
about the EELV contract awards that both companies bid on and
Boeing won. Druyun is the former Air Force negotiator now
serving time for illegally influencing the KC-135 replacement deal
in Boeing's favor.To say there's bad blood between the two would be
a rather quaint misstatement.
"Boeing as a company is really not interested in teaming with
Lockheed on this," said Boeing spokesman Dan Beck in an interview
with Reuters. "But ultimately, it's going to be up to the Air Force
to make that decision."
Lockheed's spokesman said the
company would support whichever Air Force decision allows both it
and Boeing to continue providing launch services. Indeed, both companies now provide those services
to the Air Force -- but Boeing got the lion's share. But, in the
wake of a scandal involving those two Boeing workers accused of
stealing Lockheed documents to get the EELV contracts, the Air
Force took away about $1 billion in Boeing launches and suspended
three Boeing divisions.
Those suspensions remain in effect today, more than a year after
it was instituted.
Still, the Air Force is cash-strapped and wants the two defense
contracting giants to at least consider combining services. There
simply might not be enough money in the pot -- or enough of a
mandate in Washington -- for the USAF to continue using both
companies as launch providers.
Can these two bickering behemoths work together? In the words of
one launch industry source who didn't want to give a name to
Reuters -- "You'd have to be an idiot to agree to that kind of
teaming under the current circumstances."
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