Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, said last week the committee would investigate the Air Force’s inadvertent release of KC-X tanker data to ensure that there has been no violation of acquisition law. “I am prepared to direct staff immediately to initiate an investigation into the release of proprietary data to determine if laws and fair competition regulations have been appropriately followed,” he said Dec. 22 on the Senate floor. Levin also said he intends to hold one or more committee hearings by Feb. 1 “to consider these issues.” Levin took this action at the request of Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who expressed concern that same day over the data release and whether it placed would-be KC-X supplier Boeing, which has a large presence in her state, at a competitive disadvantage against EADS North America, its rival in the KC-X contest. The Air Force has said the data release was an unfortunate clerical error that has no impact on the competition. USAF officials have said they intend to announce the KC-X winner in early January. (Cantwell-Levin transcript)
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.