USAF tanker call flawed, Boeing says

March 12, 2008 at 10:48 PM
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ST. LOUIS, March 12 (UPI) -- Boeing says the U.S. Air Force didn't note its experience when awarding a tanker contract to EADS and Northrop Grumman.

Boeing has requested the Government Accountability Office to investigate the U.S. Air Force's decision last month to award a giant $35 billion contract for 179 air tankers Northrop Grumman and its French-German partner, the European Aeronautics Defence and Space Co.

"Not only did this flawed decision deny the government the manufacturing benefits of Boeing's unique in-line production capability, subjecting the Air Force to higher risk, but it also resulted in a distortion of the price at which Boeing actually offered to produce tankers," the company said.

"In evaluating Past Performance, the Air Force ignored the fact that Boeing -- with 75 years of success in producing tankers -- is the only company in the world that has produced a commercial-derivative tanker equipped with an operational aerial-refueling boom. Rather than consider recent performance assessments that should have enhanced Boeing's position, the Air Force focused on relatively insignificant details on "somewhat relevant" Northrop/EADS programs to the disadvantage of Boeing's experience," the company said.

"Boeing offered an aircraft that provided the best value and performance for the stated mission at the lowest risk and lowest life cycle cost," said Mark McGraw, vice president and program manager, Boeing Tanker Programs.

"We did bring our A-game to this competition. Regrettably, irregularities in the process resulted in an inconsistent and prejudicial application of procurement practices and the selection of a higher-risk, higher-cost airplane that's less suitable for the mission as defined by the Air Force's own Request For Proposal. We are only asking that the rules of fair competition be followed," McGraw said.

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