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USAF Sent Info on Opposing Bids to KC-X Rivals

by John Reed on November 19, 2010


Just when we thought this was going to be wrapped up soon, the Air Force has mistakenly given Boeing and EADS information on the other team’s respective bids for KC-X.

Read the following from Defense News:

“Earlier this month, there was a clerical error that resulted in limited amounts of identical source selection information being provided to both KC-X offerors concerning their competitor’s offer,” Air Force spokesman Col. Les Kodlick said Nov. 20. “Both offerors immediately recognized the error and contacted the Air Force contracting officers.”

Kodlick said the service is analyzing the information that was inadvertently disclosed and has taken steps to ensure that both competitors have had equal access to the same information. The service is also trying to find out how the mistake happened and ensure that it is not repeated.

It sounds like this mix up factored into the delays in awarding the $35 billion contract for 179 refuelers. While Pentagon planners insisted the award would be made some time this “fall,” the KC-X  RfP listed an award date of Nov. 12. That’s clearly come and gone with no contract.  

“The KC-X source selection will continue. This incident will not impact our schedule for source selection,” Kodlick said. “However, certain aspects of the source selection have taken slightly longer than originally anticipated and we currently expect the award to occur early next year”

Boeing and EADS formally declined to comment on the latest episode in the protracted tanker saga.

But executives from both giants obliquely explained that the gaffe appeared to be an honest mistake in an otherwise impeccable competition. They said the contest, this time around, has been run with such evenhandedness that neither side has been able to glean much information on its own status, much less its competitor’s.

Execs said that made the error all the more stunning.

One said the ethical thing to do when a company received documents that were not intended for them was to not review them and to bring the error to the Air Force’s attention.

Moreover, the exec said, “That kind of stuff can easily be tracked, so everyone knows you don’t mess around.”

Who knows what this latest development in the decade long saga to replace some, just some, of the air service’s ancient KC-135s (like the one pictured above) will mean.

Here’s the article.

– John Reed

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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Justin H November 19, 2010 at 6:28 pm

If they had just given it to Boeing the first time, we would have had new tankers by now. But McCain had to raise all hell.


MMathews November 19, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Why should they just GIVE it to Boeing? Boeing lost the bid and the only reason they're still in the competition is because of politics. The last time the bid was awarded Boeing was found guilty of fraud and several AF officers were sent to prison. This is an example of how Boeing operates.


Justin H November 20, 2010 at 1:40 am

Its American, and all large contracts like this should stay with American companies. Unless the competitions product is CLEARLY better. And as far as I've heard, Airbus' product is equal or only slightly better. Not to mention the last time the AF requiremenst favored Airbus, which the WTO ruled was ILLEGALLY funded by subsidies.


EU__ November 20, 2010 at 5:59 am

yeah, but it was disclosured, that those subsidies had nothing to do with the kcx contract…
and boeing got similar incentives also and is also pending a ruling from the wto afaik http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-09-15/wto-r…

A and B bash eachother regularly with allegations like that…


EU__ November 20, 2010 at 6:01 am

and the boeing new offer (cockpit of the 787, wings of some other ac, don't know which exactly) is a higher risk anyway, since it doesn't exist yet.

but on the other hand, i think A has had it's share of the problems with earlier contracts (australia i think) and the euro is way too strong compared to dollar

sam November 19, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Just declare EADS the winner and move on. The USAF deserves the best most modern tanker.


blight November 20, 2010 at 11:22 am

Yes, just like FN Herstal, Oto-melara, Bofors and BAE supply arms to America.


Curt November 21, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Why is a A330 based tanker better? By what standard? Lets just award the contract based on the rules of the contract, then we won't have the competition thrown out like the last one. Even a cursory reading of the GAO report indicted the reason the last competition was killed was because the USAF wanted to award the contract using rules that weren't part of the solicitation.


Stan November 19, 2010 at 7:02 pm

They should just split the order between the two manufacturers. One plane can't be optimized for every role.


Justin H November 19, 2010 at 7:04 pm

They already said that would never happen. But then again the Navy now wants to buy both LCS even after they said they would only pick one.


William C. November 19, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Besides for the KC-135, we also have the KC-10 currently in service. The KC-10 is the larger of the two and carries more fuel and cargo as a result. I believe we should stick with a two tanker fleet, but the KC-10 has more life left in it than the KC-135 fleet, so it will be some time yet before we have to replace those.


MMathews November 19, 2010 at 11:29 pm

Our servicemen and women need to get those antiquated planes removed from service. They're a threat to the safety of everyone who flies them. Also, if they split the contract, it would mean jobs all over the U.S. And one thing we need now is jobs. There is enough work to give each of the companies half the contract and in the process create jobs for workers all over the country. But Boeing wants it all, the reason being that they don't want EADS to get a foothold in the plane building business in this country. But regardless, I think EADS will go ahead with their plans to put a facility down in Mobile that will put them in the plane building business in the U.S.A anyway. They already have an option on the land where they will put the facility. But the thing is, the area is hurting for jobs and if the Air Force would only agree to a split deal, a lot of good, decent Americans can be put to work. It will also make up for the political closing of Brookley Air Force Base which cost the area some 6,000 jobs.


Jacob November 20, 2010 at 5:48 am

Tell that to the B-52. And the C-130. I also read somewhere that the F-14 was still a perfectly good plane and only got retired due to the expense of operating them.


William C. November 21, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Actually the Tomcat is a rather complex scenario. Many in the Navy supported building new F-14Ds and refurbishing and upgrading less worn F-14As and F-14Bs to this standard. Future upgrades (like the proposed Super Tomcat 21) would follow enabling the F-14 to serve well into the 21st century until a true replacement was developed.

However DefSec Cheney seemed to have something of a grudge against the F-14 program and managed to put an end to the F-14D and the production line as a whole. The Super Hornet (F/A-18E and F/A-18F) was developed as an alternative which would serve along with the A/F-X as the Navy's fighter into the foreseeable future. However A/F-X was canceled.

Overall it is much easier to refurbish a large, subsonic aircraft than a supersonic fighter pulling high-g maneuvers.


blight November 20, 2010 at 11:24 am

Jobs for who? There are millions of unemployed Americans, and this is at best a few thousand skilled unionized jobs and hundreds of millions, if not billions, for the defense industry. It doesn't do anything for "everyone else".

Jobs/money spent ratio is poor, and that's not the point of defense procurement. It's to buy the best stuff to defend this country.


Matt Holzmann November 19, 2010 at 7:41 pm

can the people at the Pentagon find their asses with both hands? This project has had more screwups than a Chinese….well, these days, that may be a bad comparison.


William C. November 19, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Well the TSA could help them find their asses.


praetorian November 22, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Thanks William C. That was funny, and i needed a good laugh on this Monday.


Ems November 19, 2010 at 11:46 pm

lol! but Given the state of the economy is, and the current protectionist sentiment, they will likely give it to Boeing..


Franco November 20, 2010 at 6:41 am

Doubtful seeing as you Americans can't build decent military kit anymore. EADS will be supplying America with top line miltary kit for the next century, how the tables have turned.


William C. November 20, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Says you Frenchie, Boeing, Lockheed, Sikorsky, Northrop, General Dynamics, and other companies beg to differ.


praetorian November 22, 2010 at 10:18 am

What are you saying Franco ? Has the A400M gone smoothly ?


Brok3n November 20, 2010 at 1:00 am

Jeezes K,

What a f***** nightmare this has become. I say we just pick the Russian bid and to hell with Boeing and EADS. We need new tankers now, I’m sick of politicians getting in the way of purchases they have only a monetary interest in.

Let the Air Force make its decision and roll with it.



Dean November 20, 2010 at 12:37 pm

If the Air Force had it's way, they would pick a Chinese manufacturer :-O


praetorian November 22, 2010 at 10:02 am

The Russian bid was thrown out. They where late on getting the bid in


Franco November 20, 2010 at 6:38 am

America, do you bungle everything up or is it just my imagination. Its little wonder your the laughing stock of the world.


crackedlenses November 20, 2010 at 9:18 am

Uh, we saved the world twice, and can still nuke you all out of existence if we put our minds to it. The sleeping giant is still there…..


Dean November 20, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Hey Franco, your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries LOL


kim November 20, 2010 at 7:04 pm

First time ever I've seen a MP reference here. Cool.


crackedlenses November 21, 2010 at 5:54 pm



Day November 22, 2010 at 4:10 am

I salute you sir.


nraddin November 20, 2010 at 9:02 am

Only in the world of military contracts would something like this be an issue. They now know what each other has on their aircraft? Why is this a problem? How would this delay? Honestly, why didn't they each know that to begin with? Will the military make a secrecy shell game out of everything? No matter what the cost?


David November 20, 2010 at 9:17 am

Franco you're the joke. The only prominent military KITS in the world are american… And without america you would be speaking german or russian.

b52 check
b2 check
raptor check
m1 abrahams check
nimitz class carriers check
I could go on and on.


William C. November 22, 2010 at 10:53 am

What the hell? My comment was deleted before an admin could even see it!


Franco November 21, 2010 at 2:33 pm

B-52 = easy target
B-2 = never works
F-22 = never works and no IRST unlike Rafale
M-1 Tank = putclassed by modern French Leclerc armour
Nimitz = easy target for submarines or Russian or Chinese made missile


Curt November 21, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Charles DeGaul, slow, half the aircraft, more expensive than a Nimitz, oops the screw fell off, another day another fire, how often has it been in drydock?
Rafale, more expensive than a F-22, only works with French weapons, yeah people are lining up all over to buy that one. Can't even bribe countries to take them and the French have tried. Didn't two naval Rafale collide recently taking out 15% of the French Naval Air Arm?
E-3, E-2 (Oh wait, those work because they bought them from the US)
French Bombers? Oh yeah, don't have any.
Leclerc? Yeah, much more combat proven than a M-1. Countries are lining up to buy that one too.


EU__ November 21, 2010 at 5:16 pm

stop comparing dicks pls
mods please delete a couple of those last posts

are there any other recent news about the programme?


crackedlenses November 21, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Uh, you have no proof and are making fun of the most powerful military in existence. I can see a B-2 circling above your house…..


sr71 November 21, 2010 at 5:44 pm

What about the Russian S-400 Aircraft Carrier destroying missile. The contract for the tankers BETTER go to Boeing.


DualityOfMan November 22, 2010 at 1:24 pm

The S400 has nothing to do with aircraft carriers. You are very confused.


Byron Skinner November 21, 2010 at 11:53 pm

Good Evening Folks,

It appears that the annual nonsense battering over thins “issue” will go on for a few more years.

The loser will protest, it will be found to be a valid protest, back to the starting gate, new bid fewer aircraft and a higher price. I guess this would all mean something if the Navy and Air Force really needed there, which they don’t.

As often and with as may irregularities that have occurred in the Tanker Bid over the years, with so far three attempts with out this problem, it would seem that there is some organized effort by some concerned party to see this bid is not awarded.


There is a lot of money involved here, a winner take all deal, no second place, both companies that are in this contest will be in serious financial trouble if they don’t get this bid. people have already served time because of this bid. Just think about it.


Byron Skinner


DVind July 25, 2012 at 10:38 am

Byron, tinsta ALLONS, tinsta ALLONS!


Franco November 22, 2010 at 3:05 am

"Conspiracy?" No, just the new broken America, broke financially and broke academically (well they're not to bright whoever is running this show are they)


crackedlenses November 22, 2010 at 9:55 am

Stop looking at our "intelligent ruling" aristocracy; we don't like them either and are trying to get rid of them…..


praetorian November 22, 2010 at 10:25 am

Oooh right because France is doing soo much better. Did you just get back home from your protest of your Gov.


USam November 22, 2010 at 9:38 am

Franco, you should be practicing your surrender techniques and attending Iranian language school. France will probably be surrendering shortly after Iran gets the bomb.


FIMB November 22, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Ah yes, France, a model society completely in debt and where the citizenry demand more days off of work by law. Plus, no $ for their military and do nothing constructive with it…except try to sell their weapons/nuke reactors to whomever has the cash


blight November 23, 2010 at 2:24 pm

The United States was in debt for something like 10 trillion in the early 2000's, and the unemployed get infinity days off from work per year. We also have no money for the military, and if constructive means troops in the Middle East, the 'stans, Africa, Europe, Japan, South Korea, the Pacific Islands, the Carribbean…did I miss any spots?

Nothing wrong with selling weapons/nuke reactors. We wouldn't have a LMG, a GPMG, an Abrams main gun or a recoiless rifle and associated AT4 without foreign buys.


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