Pentagon Rebids Flying Tanker Contract

Pentagon Rebids Flying Tanker Project
Above: NotionsCapital high-mileage Aero-Tanker (artist’s concept)

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that the contract already awarded for an updated mid-air refueling aircraft will be withdrawn, and bidders will have to go through the bidding process all over again, for the third time.

The contract, which may eventually be worth $100 billion and last 20 years, had been awarded to Northrop Grumman and the European company EADS. Sore loser Boeing, American maker of previous Air Force tankers, objected, and the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a Congressional agency,  reviewed the bidding process and found it flawed.

The fact that this is a U.S. election year, the cancelled contract winner included a European partner, and Boeing claims it is an American company (it just happens to use lots and lots of imported parts) has absolutely nothing to do with this decision. Absolutely nothing. Nothing whatsoever. No way, no how.

Boeing wanted to turn its 767 into a “gas station in the sky,” while Northrop Grumman would have worked with EADS to convert the European Airbus A330A into a tanker. The bidding process will now be handled by DOD and not the Air Force. Perhaps this time NotionsCapital and our European partner Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH can get a fair hearing for our Aero-Tanker (above).

DOD acquisition officials are scheduled for a scolding by the Air and Land Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday. GAO representatives have been invited to gloat. 2118 Rayburn, 2 p.m. – don’t miss it.

Image by Mike Licht. Download it here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

 Addendum: Nice comparative graphic of the two main bidders, by Paul Duginski, Los Angeles Times.


2 Responses to “Pentagon Rebids Flying Tanker Contract”

  1. Gregory Davis Says:

    Your article is inaccurate and more than biased. Boeing was and is not a sore loser and the contract is being reopened because of inequities in the award process. Biased sources like you do keep the public misinformed, the use of your voice in this way is contemptable.

  2. Mike Licht Says:

    See? Sore loser! Gregory Davis fears that the DOD might go for the zeppelin-tanker!

    Gregory: Does that tag at the bottom of the post say “satire“? That is not just for indexing– the ADA requires it for the humor-challenged.

    But click the links. Did I make up those sources? Every one of them cites a politician interfering with the bid processes. They are as bad as Michael M. Sears and Darleen Druyun.

    Weel, almost as bad. Remember Michael M. Sears, Boeing CFO, and Boeing VP Darleen Druyun? Before Ms. Druyun was a Boeing VP, she was an Air force official working on the tanker acquisition. Did she receive a prison sentence or not? That was the first of the three times this contract was bid out.

    I didn’t mention Ms. Druyan because her case isn’t all that funny. Thank you for giving me the chance to revive the whole sordid mess.

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