September 24, 2009
$35B tanker bid goes for third round
Washington lawmakers on both sides of a $35 billion Air Force contract debate said the latest bidding plan for airborne tanker planes showed promise.
The bidding process for new airborne tankers -- essentially, flying gas stations -- has stumbled twice.
The first bidding process collapsed in 2004 due to allegations of corruption at Boeing. The second bidding process was won by a joint venture between Northrop Grumman and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. But the contract was canceled after the Government Accountability Office backed a Boeing complaint that the contract was awarded unfairly.
The Air Force plans to release a new bidding process Friday, The New York Times reported.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who supports Boeing, said Air Force officials
have done a much more precise job of letting bidders know exactly what the criteria will be,
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who supports Northrop Grumman/EADS, said the Air Force appeared
fair and just in deciding not to consider a recent, preliminary World Trade Organization ruling against the venture.
Shelby said he would review the final bidding process
to ensure that it provides a level playing field for the competitors and the best capability for the war fighter.