Parting Tanker Thoughts

John Young, who relinquished his post as Pentagon acquisition executive on Monday to Ashton Carter (see below), reiterated his support again for the idea of awarding the KC-X tanker contract to the bidder that offers the best price. During his final meeting with reporters in the Pentagon, Young said this approach might ultimately prove less controversial, Reuters news wire service reported Monday. “I’m struggling to see what the downside of that is,” he said. However, Young said a best-value competition between the two bidders, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, could also be successfully run so long as the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Air Force scaled back the 800 requirements set in the initial KC-X go-around, which ended in a stalemate last year after a legal protest and Congressional wrangling. Boeing, which bid the KC-767 in the original KC-X contest—and lost—has argued in the past for the redo of the KC-X competition to focus on best price. Conversely, Northrop, with its larger A330-based tanker that has more carrying capacity, has championed an approach that emphasizes the overall best value.