VIDEO: Northrop KC-X tanker campaign ‘goes negative’

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.

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6 Responses to VIDEO: Northrop KC-X tanker campaign ‘goes negative’

  1. John S 28 October, 2009 at 3:47 pm #


    Both embedded YouTube videos appear to have been marked as ‘Private.’ I get the following:

    “This is a private video. If you have been sent this video, please make sure you accept the sender’s friend request.”

  2. Stephen Trimble 28 October, 2009 at 3:51 pm #

    My bad! That should be fixed now.

  3. Royce 28 October, 2009 at 5:20 pm #

    Sounds like once Northrop Grumman saw how focused the process is on the lowest price bid they freaked. Unfortunately for Northrop/Airbus, for the USAF picking the lowest price bid is the method of selection that they can most easily defend in the political sphere.

  4. airplanejim 29 October, 2009 at 5:35 am #

    Last time, Northrup threatened not to submit a bid unless USAF changed the RFP to include features that were in their favor. It appears that they are employing the same tactic but haven’t made the threat as yet. It will be interesting to see when the “I’ll take my ball and go home” part of the plot comes.

  5. Howard 29 October, 2009 at 6:23 pm #

    Well, NOC whined about the last RFP and got it changed to the point they were the only one who could win. I guess they are hoping that lightning strikes twice in the same place, and they can jimmy the requirements again. Not sure that will work this time around, especially since this is exactly what the GAO dinged the USAF on in the protest. It will be interesting to see if this tactic of trying to make the USAF look bad works out for them.

  6. Dennis Gogerty 21 January, 2010 at 3:43 am #


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