Awards from a KC-X press conference

Back from a Northrop Grumman news conference on its bid to win a $40 billion contract to produce 179 KC-30 tankers for the US Air Force, I feel inclined to make some awards.

In the category of “best gotcha question”, the award goes to: Andrea Shalal-Esa, of Reuters, who asked NG’s SVP Paul Meyer: “Is the [air force] program being run in a protest-proof way?”

Tough one! If Meyer says “yes”, it will look bad if NG loses and protests the award. If he says “no”, the air force won’t be very happy with him. So what does Meyer say? Here’s his response: “In today’s environment I have no answer to the question. I don’t know what that means anymore.”

Well-played, Mr. Meyer.

In the category of “best soundbite”, the award goes to Representative Jo Bonner, of Mobile, Alabama, who said: “Northrop Grumman is in LA. This project is going to be in L.A.: Lower Alabama”.

Bravo, Congressman.

In the category of “best unexpected scoop”, Northrop Grumman says it’s “inevitable” that it will switch to the A330-300F airframe if it wins the contract. This means GE will have a second shot at the A330′s freighter version even after it rejected a role on the commercial program earlier this summer. If you’re a fan of commerical aviation news, you know that this is not a trivial development.

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