>> Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Let me recommend the excellent work of Amy Butler at Ares on the new Air Force tanker contract bid situation. Long story short, Northrup-Grumman/EADS/Airbus is claiming that the new requirements are tilted so heavily towards Boeing that the former may not submit a bid. It wouldn't be terribly surprising if this were true; Boeing has been trying to buy the process since before the first tanker announcement hit. Obviously, if Airbus withdraws its bid, the DoD loses a substantial amount of leverage over Boeing. Again, this is rather the point of buying the process.
I'd like to thank the good folks at Tanker USA for keeping me updated about all this through the unsolicited e-mails that they keep sending. I can't seem to find the organization on the web (although they appear to have a twitter feed), but they're pretty obviously a piece of Boeing astroturf. At least they get the rhetoric right; it's all about not sending US jobs overseas, and democracy, and national security, and so forth. I think that this re-emphasizes the fact that fears about the influence of "foreign corporate money" rather miss the point; US corporations pose a far greater danger to US democracy than do foreign corporations.
For what it's worth, I asked some tanker pilots yesterday at the Air Command and Staff College about the competition, and they said that they preferred the Airbus 330 hands down. Not a scientific survey, of course, but worth thinking about.