Twittering SECDEF’s tanker update at 1pm [UPDATED]

Secretary of Defense Bob Gates will brief reporters at 1 pm on the way forward for the US Air Force tanker contract. Check the “Twitter updates” section in the space on the right for live updates about the briefing, and go to this link at 1 pm to watch Gates yourselves.

UPDATE: Briefing is over. I’ll post my quick write-up for Flight’s public web site as soon as it appears. Below is the transcript of my Twitter updates during the briefing.


TheDEWLine TheDEWLine Young: KC-X in-service date may not change from 2013. “We’ll see what industry bids in the new proposals.”
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TheDEWLine TheDEWLine Northrop is “reviewing the decision to ensure the recompetition will provide both companies a fair opportunity”.
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TheDEWLine TheDEWLine Northrop Grumman has issued a statement.
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TheDEWLine TheDEWLine Young: Modified proposals will allow the competitors to offer new features or even a “totally new product”.
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TheDEWLine TheDEWLine Young indicates there will be no-fly off in the second competition.
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TheDEWLine TheDEWLine Young: “We would like to err on the side of changing the minimum amount” in the amended solicitation.
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TheDEWLine TheDEWLine Young: DOD will “follow a normal acquisition process”, to include draft RFP amended to reflect GAO findings.
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TheDEWLine TheDEWLine Young is now briefing.
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TheDEWLine TheDEWLine Gates: “This is the third time we’ve gone at this.” (IE, attempting to acquire a KC-135E tanker replacement.)
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TheDEWLine TheDEWLine Gates: “We are most likely to most quickly gain the confidence of Congress by having (Young) oversee this contract.”
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TheDEWLine TheDEWLine Gate: John Young, the Pentagon’s acquisition czar, will take over management of the competition from the US Air Force.
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TheDEWLine TheDEWLine Gates: “We believe we can accomplish all of this and award a new contract by December.”
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TheDEWLine TheDEWLine Gates: KC-X contract “cannot be awarded at present”… “We will request revised proposal from industry.”
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TheDEWLine TheDEWLine It’s 1:06pm. Still waiting for the briefing to start.
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TheDEWLine TheDEWLine No leaks yet on details of Gate’s plan.
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TheDEWLine TheDEWLine SECDEF Gates is scheduled to brief reporters on KC-X way forward at 1 pm. Check here for updates.




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6 Responses to Twittering SECDEF’s tanker update at 1pm [UPDATED]

  1. Royce 9 July, 2008 at 7:42 pm #

    Get a new contract by December? I’m assuming that’s because the current administration wants this done before it leaves office, but you have to wonder why. It’s not like there are a number of other programs that are unsettled and yet not subject to this artificial deadline. What’s the administration’s game here?

  2. John Price 10 July, 2008 at 9:57 am #

    I just wondered if the December date isn’t meant to avoid clashing with the election – not that that would stop political noises off ..;
    If Boeing decides to cut their losses on the 767 line shut-down and offer the 777 instead, could they get that in service by 2013 ???
    Let’s hope that there won’t be a news black-out on who’s doing what, to whom and when …

  3. Stephen Trimble 10 July, 2008 at 10:48 am #

    It’s important to remember that DOD could have a completely different group of people in charge in January, so I’m sure that had something to do with the December timeframe. The same basic group of people have been trying to get this done for nearly 7 years!

    My colleague Max Kingsley-Jones has reported that Boeing has no intention to shut down the 767 line anytime soon. Quite the contrary! Their plan is actually to start increasing production to fill the gap created by the (at least) 15 month delay for first delivery of the 787 and the extremely slower ramp-up of that aircraft to full production rate.

    The 777 is still a remote possibility, but, of course, if DOD doesn’t change the original specs, the 767 should do quite well against the KC-30 if no “extra credit” is awarded for a larger aircraft.

  4. Royce 10 July, 2008 at 2:06 pm #

    I know there will be a change in administrations, but it strikes me as significant that out of the many procurement programs that are unstable/in trouble/out of control, this is the only one Gates seems to be dead set on settling before he leaves. Why this program? Is it because the USAF and Gates have different winners in mind, and that after Gates leaves, he knows the USAF will go the other way?

  5. John S. 10 July, 2008 at 3:27 pm #

    “My colleague Max Kingsley-Jones has reported that Boeing has no intention to shut down the 767 line anytime soon. Quite the contrary! Their plan is actually to start increasing production to fill the gap created by the (at least) 15 month delay for first delivery of the 787 and the extremely slower ramp-up of that aircraft to full production rate. ”

    Boeing’s dream scenario: They build specially modified 767-200ERs (with -400ER cockpits and flaps, -300F wing and cargo floor, P&W 4062B engines) for customer airlift shortfall compensation.

    When they come back to Boeing after the 787s are delivered, Boeing rebuilds them as KC-767AT tankers.

    Granted, the -200 may not meet the seat requirements, and the USAF may not like having ‘used’ tankers, but if the right deals were struck, it would mean Boeing doesn’t get stuck with a bunch of 767s on their hands in 3 years.

  6. Stephen Trimble 10 July, 2008 at 3:35 pm #

    I love these kinds of thought experiments, so I hate to poke holes. But I’ll do it anyway. There’s a few holes in that reasoning. In a best-case scenario, the 767-200ERX configuration won’t be available as a certificated aircraft until probably 2011 or 2012, long after the demand surge of the 787 compensation lift is over. And I’d expect the airlines to want the 767-300ER and 767-400ER, at minimum, as even a short-term 787 capacity replacement. Following this chain of logic does help illustrate what an industrial pickle Boeing is in right now.

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