Bargain Hunting

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday told airmen in Southwest Asia that the Pentagon will be no slouch when it comes to negotiating a contract with Boeing for a new aerial refueling aircraft, according to press reports. “We will certainly be sharpening our pencil,” Gates told members of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing during a townhall meeting at an air base in the war theater. Northrop withdrew from the Air Force’s KC-X tanker competition on Monday, leaving Boeing as the sole company left to bid. The company intends to offer its NewGen Tanker model. Gates said he was disappointed that Northrop left. “I wish that we had had a competition,” he said. But there’s no reason why Northrop’s move should add further delays to the KC-X program, he said. (AFPS report by Jim Garamone) (See also AFP’s report)