Watch Northrop’s full presentation in four parts on YouTube:
Northrop Grumman hosted a press conference today to deliver a specific message: the company wants wholesale changes made to the US Air Force’s draft requirements for a KC-135R tanker replacement contract.
If KC-X were a political campaign, pundits would say Northrop’s candidate for the coveted KC-X deal has “gone negative”. But the twist is that Northrop isn’t bothering to criticize it’s rival (Boeing KC-7A7 bid). Instead, Northrop’s complaints are focused on how its customer is proposing to evaluate the final bids. Following the political analogy, it might be like a politician bashing voters for the way they think.
But Northrop’s bottom line still isn’t clear. The company won’t say what it will do if the USAF doesn’t make substantial change to its acquisition strategy. Off camera, I asked Bill Welser, Northrop vice president for air mobility, if Northrop believes its tanker bid can win under the draft requirements. Welser replied that he’d have to wait to see the final requirements. After I repeated that I had asked about the draft requirements, Welser again dodged a direct reply: “We can design an aircraft that meets the requirement,” he says.