Gregoire Believes Hometown Team Will Win Contract
At this writing, Boeing
hasn't lost the US Air Force's KC-X contract to provide the service
with new tankers just yet -- and many analysts feel a Boeing win
over a team comprised of EADS and Northrop Grumman is all-but
assured. But that didn't stop the governor of Washington from
threatening a possible legal protest if Boeing is denied the
Speaking to reporters Tuesday after a meeting with the state's
congressional delegation, Gov. Chris Gregoire said the state could
file a congressional inquiry or take another course of action if
Boeing isn't awarded the KC-X deal.
A decision from the Air Force was originally said to be coming
as soon as Wednesday evening... though officials said
Wednesday afternoon not to expect an annoucement until Friday, at
Gregoire then stressed she still believes Boeing will come out
on top, reports The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "I'm banking on us
getting it," she said. "I just think we win if it's done absolutely
without politics, based on experience, work force, all of that. So
I'm feeling good about this.
"If we don't win, then I think there'll be a lot of questions
asked about why in the world would Boeing, with that work force,
that expertise, that experience, that history -- how could they not
have gotten this?" Gregoire then added, muddying the waters
somewhat. "My sense is there'll be a lot of questions raised and
then we'll get into the protest."
Of course, Gregoire isn't the first person to raise the ominous
specter of legal action, from either side of the hotly-contested
KC-X battle. As ANN has reported
extensively, Boeing is offering its KC-767 aerial
refueling platform to replace 179 aging KC-135 tankers in the Air
Force fleet; Northrop/EADS has countered with a variant of its
KC-330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport.
Boeing recently delivered the first KC-767 to Japan, albeit one
year behind schedule; the KC-330 is still undergoing
The contract to be awarded shortly is the first of three phases
of the KC-X program, which aims to ultimately replace 502 aging
tankers. Both sides have appealed to lawmakers in Washington and
Kansas (Boeing) and Alabama (EADS/Northrop) to support their
respective bids, touting new jobs and economic growth.
Federal law allows losing bidders on federal contracts to appeal
to the Government Accountability Office, if they allege the agency
involved violated terms of the procurement agreement when selecting
the winning contract.
Such a battle is now underway with another Air Force program --
the CSAR-X search-and-rescue helicopter bid, which was originally
awarded to Boeing's HH-47 in November 2006. Losing bidders Sikorsky
and Lockheed promptly lodged protests... and the Air Force, after
some stalling, agreed to reopen the bidding process last
There's also a fair amount of political irony here... as in
2005, Gregoire was among the most vocal supporters of efforts by three Washington counties to bring
the KC-30 assembly plant to the state.