Talking with reporters at the Pentagon Tuesday, Sue Payton clarified the KC-X evaluation factors, saying price is not the most important part of the competition. The Air Force acquisition chief distributed a chart that shows cost/price is less important than mission capability, proposal risk, or past performance. She said the service deems cost as equal in importance to the integrated fleet air refueling assessment factor. Because the Air Force has a lot riding on its top acquisition priority, she declared that the service does not want to be bamboozled by unrealistic cost estimates. “Industry partners have a tendency to lowball” their cost proposals, Payton noted. The chart states explicitly that the other factors, collectively, “are significantly more important than Factor 4 [cost].”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.