Pentagon acquisition guru John Young says Northrop Grumman is due a termination fee for the failed KC-X tanker program and that it could amount to “tens of millions of dollars,” according to a Bloomberg News report (via Los Angeles Times). Now that the KC-X has been punted to the next Administration, Young is speaking his mind, telling various reporters that Boeing, which lost the KC-X award to Northrop in February but then successfully protested, offered a smaller aircraft that he felt should have been cheaper. Instead, he said the Boeing proposal was about $3 billion higher than Northrop’s. In an interview with the Washington Post, Young also declared that USAF had not been as open and transparent on requirements as it thought it had. Of some 800 “tradeable” requirements, he said, “We didn’t do a good explaining what prioritization or weighting we would give to those.” For Young, it’s not a question of if USAF should pay Northrop, but only how much. He told Bloomberg, “We are certainly going to negotiate with them aggressively and try not to pay anything more than we have to, but unfortunately, in my opinion, they are entitled to something.”
Reports of production troubles on the SpaceX rocket that could contend for military cargo deliveries happened to coincide with a different company’s concept receiving an early nod—one that might not require a rocket at all.