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of Defense Robert Gates announced that the contract already awarded for an updated mid-air refueling aircraft will be withdrawn, and bidders will have to go through the bidding process all over again, for the third time.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, NotionsCapital.com
Addendum: Nice comparative graphic of the two main bidders, by Paul Duginski, Los Angeles Times.