2008-09-15 - KC-X cancelledUS defence minister Gates cancels KC-X-competition

Tankerwettbewerb wird vertagt<br /> On 10 Septeember, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has cancelled the competition for the $35 billion Air Force tanker contract.

Gates told the House Armed Services Committee today that he decided the contract cannot be awarded by January, and that rather than award a contract that will be contested, the better idea is to let the next administration make its decision. "It has now become clear that the solicitation and award process cannot be accomplished by January," he said. "Thus, I believe that rather than hand the next administration an incomplete and possibly contested process, we should cleanly defer this procurement to the next team."
The Air Force had awarded the contract for what's known as the KC-X to the Northrop-Grumman/EADS/Airbus consortium, which prompted a protest from rival bidder Boeing. The General Accountability Office found irregularities in the awarding of the contract, and Gates determined to re-open the bidding process on July 9. Gates told the representatives that the department has been trying for seven years to find the proper way to replace the current fleet of KC-135 tankers. Over that time, the process has become most complex and emotional, Gates said, partly because of Defense Department mistakes. "It is my judgment that in the time remaining to us, we cannot complete a competition that will be viewed as fair and competitive in this highly-charged environment," the secretary said. "I believe the resulting cooling-off period will allow the next administration to view objectively the military requirements and craft a new acquisition strategy for the KC-X as it sees fit."
Boeing welcomed the Defense Department's decision and believes that it will best serve the warfighter in allowing the appropriate time for this important and complex procurement to be conducted in a thorough and open competition. This will assure delivery of the right tanker to the Air Force and serve the best interests of the American taxpayer. In the meantime, Boeing looks forward to working together with our customer and then offering a next-generation tanker that meets the long-term requirements of the men and women who will rely on this capability in future missions.
Northrop Grumman said " "We are extremely disappointed at the decision to terminate the current tanker competition, especially on behalf of our men and women in uniform who will now be denied a critically needed new tanker for years. The Department of Defense, as recently as last week, stated the urgency to replace the Eisenhower-era fleet of refueling tankers. With this delay, it is conceivable that our warfighters will be forced to fly tankers as old as 80 years of age. Northrop Grumman entered this competition in good faith and proposed the most modern, most capable tanker available, at the best value to the American taxpayer. While we understand, we are greatly concerned about the potential future implications for the Defense acquisition process."

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