Industry Response

Boeing said in a statement yesterday it welcomed the news from Defense Secretary Robert Gates that the Air Force’s KC-X tanker competition is being reopened to revised bids (see above). “However, we remain concerned that a renewed request for proposals may include changes that significantly alter the selection criteria as set forth in the original solicitation,” the company wrote, noting that it submitted “the only proposal” that fully met the mandatory criteria of the original RFP. It said it will “take time” to understand the updated solicitation to determine the right path forward for the company, which bid its KC-767 tanker model in the original contest, but also has the larger KC-777 tanker concept in its back pocket. Meanwhile, Northrop Grumman, which won the original KC-X contest but is now dethroned, at least for now, pending the new round of competition, said in a statement it “applauds” the Pentagon leadership’s recognition that the acquisition of the new tanker “should be put on a path toward quick closure.” He said the company is reviewing the decision “to ensure the re-competition will provide both companies a fair opportunity to present the strengths of their proposals.” In the statement, Northrop spokesman Randy Belote noted that the Air Force “has already picked the best tanker.” His company is confident the service will do so again, he said.