Air Tanker Bidding Tanks, Big Time

 Air Tanker Bidding Tanks, Big Time

Forget Wikileaks. The Air Force doesn’t need help in spilling secrets — it delivers confidential bid data directly to competing defense contractors. An Air Force clerical error sent Boeing bidding information to competitor EADS and vice versa, fouling up the $40 billion contract for a mid-air refueling tanker plane that has been delayed for a decade.

The tanker dogfight began in 2001, when ex-fighter pilot Senator John McCain (R-AZ) shot down a Boeing deal. In the bidding war that followed, Boeing offered a job to the Air Force officer running the bid. Two Boeing execs were went down in flames and did jail time, and the firm’s CEO quit.

The Air Force relaunched the bidding process and awarded a contract to a Northrop Grumman-EADS consortium. Boeing filed a protest and it was upheld by the GAO, which faulted the USAF process. The contract was rolled out again in 2009. Northrop complained that the bid was stacked in favor of Boeing, and withdrew. EADS and Boeing submitted bids, and now this mixup has sent the whole deal into a tailspin again.

Meanwhile, US Air Force planes are being refueled by 50-year-old tankers. The KC-135 Stratotankers, cousins of the Boeing 707, went into service when Dwight Eisenhower was in office, right before he said that stuff about the Military-Industrial Complex.

Keep ’em flyin.


Image (“NotionsCapital high-mileage Aero-Tanker — artist’s concept”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Air Tanker Bidding Tanks, Big Time”

  1. exemployee Says:

    I agree, nothing is perfect. However, this is more a homeland security issue in my personal way of thinking….

  2. Mike Licht Says:

    exemployee wrote: this is more a homeland security issue ….

    Couldn’t agree more. While the terrorists involved haven’t been sent to Guantanamo, there have been a few successful prosecutions, notably of Boeing executives.

    Dwight Eisenhower agrees, too, in his January 17, 1961 Farewell Address warning about the Military-Industrial Complex. Reportedly, his original draft called it the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex. It’s here, in section IV.

    Point of Information: The value of 2010 defense contracts is $232,678,654,050.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: