Northrop/EADS Have Reason To Be Happy... Boeing, Not So
of the Pentagon's revised Request for Proposals on the US Air Force
KC-X tanker bid -- leaked to press outlets Wednesday -- likely
won't win much favor in the halls of Boeing's corporate
headquarters, or among its supporters on Capitol Hill.
In its 98-page briefing on amendments and clarifications to the
original RFP, the Pentagon says it will place greater emphasis on
aerial refueling duties, and capabilities above and beyond the Air
Force's original plan. That bodes well for Northrop Grumman and
EADS, whose KC-30 offers greater fuel capacity than the smaller
"There is additional value to the government for the additional
fuel offload amount above threshold," the revised document states,
according to Reuters.
Boeing won't be pleased by that decision.
As ANN reported, the company successfully
protested the Air Force's February 29 decision to award the KC-X
contract to the KC-30 on the grounds the Air Force unfairly gave
Northrop/EADS unfair credit for the additional capabilities of its
larger aircraft. The KC-30 offers greater refueling and transport
capabilities than what the original contract proposal called for,
whereas the KC-767 fit the original terms almost exactly.
Conversely, the Pentagon's revised terms will measure life cycle
costs over 40 years, instead of 25 as called for in the original
Air Force RFP. That should work to Boeing's favor... whose smaller
offering will almost certainly be cheaper to operate over the long
run than the larger KC-30.
But that's one of the few areas where Boeing will likely come
out on top, according to an aide to Washington lawmaker and Boeing
supporter Norman Dicks. The revised RFP "appears to justify a
bigger aircraft with greater fuel offload capability," the aide to
the Democrat congressman said.
The aide tells Reuters the Pentagon gave a "1" priority rating
to aerial refueling capabilities... and in that race, the numbers
have it. Northrop's larger Airbus A330-based aircraft can hold
nearly 250,000 pounds of fuel, some 45,000 pounds more than the
Other areas where the KC-30 rated highly -- like operational
utility, survivability and airlift capability -- were rated a "2,"
while efficiency and other operational concerns -- like the ability
to operate off a 7,000-foot runway, a strong plus for the KC-767 --
were rated a "3."
As ANN reported, the Pentagon stripped the Air
Force of its decision-making authority on KC-X in July, following
the Government Accountability Office's ruling in favor of Boeing's
Officials said the Pentagon plans to release the final RFP later
this month, with revised bids submitted by October 1. Pentagon
spokesman Bryan Whitman says the plan still calls for a winner to
be chosen by the end of the year.
"We are continuing to move along at a very deliberate and
aggressive pace here because our desire remains to complete the
source selection process by the end of this year," he said.