Pentagon Statements Reignite Tanker Concerns

August 12, 2008 – Alarm bells are going off over recent Pentagon statements that it will give “extra credit” to the refueling tanker that carries more fuel. Such an emphasis in the new round of bidding would be a shift from the original criteria and would heavily favor the Airbus 330-200 aircraft over the Boeing KC-767.

The Air Force initially awarded the $35 billion tanker deal to the EADS-Airbus tanker on Feb. 29, citing the Airbus’s greater fuel capacity. The Air Force previously assured Boeing that no extra credit would be given for exceeding original specifications regarding size and capacity. Boeing protested the decision to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and in a rare move, the GAO rebuked the Air Force decision and recommended a new round of bidding.

The contract for 179 tankers is the first of three deals that could be worth up to $100 billion over the next 30 years. In addition to national security concerns over outsourcing such a large military contract, legislators and union leaders campaigned aggressively for a U.S.-built tanker that could support as many as U.S. 44,000 jobs.

“We’re determined that this new round of bidding should not be a warmed-over rerun of the initial competition,” said Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski. “Every level of this union was mobilized to support a fair bidding process and we’re not going to stand by and let this new competition be hijacked by lobbyists, bureaucrats or anyone else. This is a taxpayer-funded contract and it should produce the best decision for our armed forces as well for as the working men and women in this country who provide the funding.”