Friday, November 13, 2009

Tanker Wars - Update

Time to update everyone with some news, old and fresh off the wires on the USAF Refueling Aircraft procurement program. When last I noted Northrop Grumman was crying in its soup about the USAF having shared with Boeing its pricing details on its now ill-fated KC-45 offering. Seems they think that would be detrimental to future bidding as their opposition would know how they came to their overall cost and could you know, under bid them. Seems reasonable, but the USAF thinks otherwise, they claim, no harm no foul, Procurement moves on and forward.

Now some updates:

Round 1: After the crying session NGS claimed that they are finding numerous problems in the Draft RFP that required answers from the USAF. The USAF responded to their Questions. Boeing had no comment at that time, one of the complaints that NGS had was that the new specifications were tilted in favor of a smaller airframe. One of the cost drivers the USAF needed to factor in was the impact to existing infrastructure, things like making hangers larger at all the bases where the new aircraft will be repaired or maintained so to fit a bigger aircraft into if one is bids say a very large aircraft OR reinforcing the taxi ways, runways and parking aprons to accommodate a much heavier airframe if you bid something that carries say, three or four times the gas. NGS thinks this is unfair. Boeing: No Comment.

Round 2: After USAF responds that their proposal evaluation process will hold fast NGS threatens to Boycott the bidding process altogether. USAF responds by saying that they are "open" to maybe making some alterations to the evaluation scheme. NGS backs down on the Boycott threat.

Round 3: Then we have the AFL-CIO jumping in claiming that the Boeing offering would be better for the country. The Union, which also represents that the Boeing employees in Washington state says that the Boeing aircraft will create thousands of "family-sustaining union jobs" while the NGS/EADS aircraft will create mainly "only a few thousand lower-paying nonunion jobs." Wow, what an endorsement, I would never have expected that. Oh wait, this just in: Boeing purchases the Vought production facility in Charleston South Carolina and then elects to open a second production line for the new B787 Dreamliner at this facility. It's non-union.

Round 4: Then we have the World Trade Organization or WTO, weighing in and ruling that Airbus has illegally benefited from subsidies from the participating governments of the consortium. These payments have for many years allowed Airbus to price their aircraft well below its competitors, including Boeing. In particular are payments made "in kind" by countries investing in production facilities, dubbed "launch aid" facility improvements and improvements to infrastructure helps Airbus bring to market new aircraft well below their actual cost?

USAF continues to say it will ignore the WTO ruling while evaluating the proposed offerings.

Round 5: Now Senator John McCain has stepped into the mess, or maybe he never really left it in the first place. In any case he has released a letter he has dispatched to the SECDEF decrying the unfairness of the USAF proposal and how it favors a smaller aircraft that Boeing is most likely to bid. Well now, this begs: what did Boeing do to piss off John McCain? I mean at every turn of this 10 years of wiggling he turns up and throws wrenches into the works, and I am talking about great big wrenches too not those crappy craftsman ones. You would think he was flying a Boeing aircraft when he was shot down over Vietnam and tortured for flying Boeing. Oh, but he was in a McDonald Douglass aircraft; the old A-4 Skyhawk. Well, McDonald Douglass is now owned by Boeing but back then they were on their own. Who knows but here he is pissing on the process, and you know how those old fogies are about their bladder control.

Who knows where this is going but you got to believe there is a mess there waiting for them. Can it get any worse? It's too bad the DOD/USAF just won't strap on some balls and say that they are going to buy an X-aircraft and be done with it. Simply state what they want and pull out the Credit card and start buying them. But, they have no balls, no spine and no clue.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

1 comment:

Buck said... know how those old fogies are about their bladder control.

Hey! Be careful here...

But, getting back on topic: CF. Pure, unadulterated CF.