Air Force comes out fighting on KC-X selection

The USAF has apparently filed its arguments rebutting Boeing’s protest of the KC-X tanker selection – and they’re pretty robust. Reuters has the scoop here on the document that the service has sent to the Government Accountability Office. Thanks to Scott Hamilton for highlighting it.The Air Force’s arguments basically fall into two categories: on some points Boeing should have complained during the competition, not now; and on others they’re just not valid grounds. In particular Reuters reports it saying the issue of alleged foreign subsidies should have been raised during the competition – but anyway that was not the reason that Northrop Grumman’s cost/price risk was assessed as better.

Elsewhere, Northrop Grumman has rounded up 22 retired Air Force generals to support the KC-45 selection – the Mobile Press-Register says at least nine are on the company’s payroll one way or another. Jim Wallace at the Seattle PI says all 22 are in either Northrop or EADS’ pay.

And Lt Gen Tom McInerney, USAF retd and now consulting for Northrop Grumman among others, has contributed a piece to Human rebutting an earlier article supporting Boeing.

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One Response to Air Force comes out fighting on KC-X selection

  1. James Francis Smith April 3, 2008 at 7:24 pm #

    An Open Letter to Senator McCain

    Dear Senator;

    On March 3rd, Alabama’s Senator Shelby accused the EADS tanker’s opponents of being mendacious. He further stated that the award will create thousands of American jobs not outsource them. In an open letter, of which you received a copy, I pointed out the errors in his logic. Eight-five percent of Boeing’s plane would have been manufactured and fabricated in America, where as only 57% of the EADS model will be American made. The net loss of those manufacturing jobs will be outsourced to Europe.
    [I have no employment or financial interest in Boeing. My only dog in the hunt is as a patriotic American and a taxpayer]

    European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) Lobbyists

    After becoming aware that no less than five-current or former EADS lobbyists are working for your election campaign—from firms that earned $780,000 of the $1,300,000 EADS spent on lobbyists in 2007—I began to wonder if you’re as neutral as you purport?

    1. How could EADS—coming up on the largest American defense contract of their corporate life—afford to let these lobbyists go?
    2. Did their roles on the McCain campaign provide them access to influential people who would not otherwise have taken their calls?

    Your campaign claimed it was “coincidental”.

    Furthermore, your spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker commented, “They never lobbied him related to the issues, and the letters went out before they were contacted” by EADS. This referred to two letters you sent, one to Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England in September 2006 and the other on December 1, 2006 to incoming Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

    “I had nothing to do with the contract, except to insist …, that it be fair and open and transparent.” [Senator McCain to St. Louis voters.]

    “ I respectfully suggest that the Air Force remove W.T.O (World Trade Organization) element from its procurement evaluation.” [Excerpt from your letter to incoming Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.] In later correspondence Gates assured you that your concerns had been taken into account.

    Can the American people believe Hazelbaker?

    Didn’t your letters follow by only a few months requests and even threats made by EADS on the very same subjects? Following your correspondence, changes were made to the request for proposal—changes that favored EADS.
    [Air Force chief of staff General Michael Mosely testified before Congress that although concerned about the nation’s shrinking base of defense industrial contractors, stated the Air Force was barred from considering that in awarding the tanker contract.

    Isn’t this one of the changes you requested?

    Washington Senator Murray countered by revealing the Navy takes the industrial base into account when considering shipbuilding contracts.]

    Did you, Senator John McCain, ever lie to hide embarrassing incidents?

    The Washington Post and the New York Times reported you had denied ever meeting with Broadcaster Lowell Paxon whose lobbyist was Vicki Iseman.
    [Newsweek, however, uncovered a legal deposition in which you admitted that you not only had met Paxon, but that you flew several times on his corporate jet. The FCC committee chair had some unkind things to say about your interfering in their process.]

    According to Newsweek, you have also denied claims by close associates on your being warned about giving special treatment to Vicki Iseman. You denied that you were ever warned.

    How much harm has your meddling done to our country?

    While thumping your chest about your involvement in exposing Boeing’s procurement scandal in 2002, why haven’t you mentioned that Northrop Grumman paid $111,200,000 to settle a suit out-of-court. A suit charging that the firm “knowingly” gave the Navy defective aircraft. [Wikipedia]

    Shouldn’t your Senate Armed Services Committee have been concerned with something that may have compromised the lives of our naval personnel?

    Your obstruction could cost the following:

    • The loss of at least 14,000 high-paying jobs just as our country enters recessionary times.

    • Potential danger to our pilots. Your opposition to leasing Boeing tankers in 2002, has already delayed the replacement tankers for six years.

    • An additional $15 billion in fuel costs, $5- $6 billion in operating and maintenance costs plus additional billions for extending runways and hangers.

    • Delay needed to construct facilities in Mobile, delay and cost needed to recruit and train workers when these facilities and experienced workers already exist in Everett, Washington.

    • By providing a plane that’s too large to service most third world countries’ inadequate airfields. The very countries where humanitarian aid will likely be most needed.

    • On a different but similar matter, Project on Government Oversight (POGO) in 2006 found it distressing “ … the only way we can afford tactical air superiority is to eventually undermine it by selling it abroad.” Senator, your stance on the EADS proposal is adding to that problem.

    • I also have a major concern about how much your interference will advance China’s badly needed technology, which will harm our future security. [Check out Senator Murray’s allegations about past French arms sales and add the harm French Exocet missiles did in sinking Britain’s HMS Sheiffeld.]

    Finally the most important question of them all?

    Why do we need to replace the aging tanker fleet now? According to the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), “that with relatively cheap engine and avionics upgrades, the current fleet of 545 KC-135 tankers would not need to begin being replaced until 2040.” [POGO release May 10, 2002, a release which praised your role in what they termed a $26 Billion Pork Provision]

    If the above is true, didn’t your interference unnecessairly raise the financial stakes and outsource the pork to the Europeans?

    James Francis Smith

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