EADS expects its partner Northrop Grumman to re-offer exactly the same derivative of the Airbus A330 to meet the US Air Force’s tanker requirement as it did in the original contest which resulted in a successful Boeing protest.

The company believes that it already has an aircraft superior to the Boeing 767-based competitor and that its challenge is to better address the questions by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) about its bid.

John Young, chief operating officer of EADS North America, said: “We will go back with the same airplane. The military buys the best product. They will buy the thing that protects them and their allies the best.”

Young specifically addressed some of the issues raised by the GAO, saying that the company needed to better explain its ability to provide maintenace depots on schedule. “We did that in the oral presentations. It is a technicality,” he says.

Regarding the A330’s ability to meet the speed requirement, he says: “We have the analysis to show that we can do that and in our judgement it is about providing more data.”

 A330 tanker

The partners were surprised to be judged inferior regarding aircraft survivability and will argue their corner rather than make changes to the design.

Young notes that the Pentagon itself has to address other GAO concerns, but is also encouraged by clear indications that his namesake John Young, the US under-secretary for defense who will supervise the new contest, will give the bidders credit for exceeding the minimum requirements.

He expects that the new contest will be constrained to examining the seven areas highlighted by the GAO, saying: “When they use the term ‘re-compete’ I think many people in Europe think of that with a big ‘R’ but it is a small ‘r’.

“It will be a narrowly focused competition on just those seven items. Things that have not already been evaluated will not be re-evaluated.

“The goal of the secretary of state for defense is to do it by year-end. Do I think it is a sporty schedule – yes I do. It may go into January or February but that it is it. The process will be speedy and it will be efficient.

Source: Flight International