WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today commented on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) decision to sustain Boeing’s tanker protest of the KC-45 aerial refueling tanker contract. On February 29, 2008, U.S.-based Boeing lost the long-awaited Air Force tanker contract to a competing bid by Northrop Grumman-EADS (European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company, a European based company). Boeing protested the decision by filing a formal appeal with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on March 11, 2008.
“While I support GAO’s determination to ensure our nation and our Air Force acquires the best tanker available, I am disappointed in the further delay of building the KC-45 aerial refueling tanker,” Senator Inhofe said. “Replacing our aging tanker is long overdue and is critical to our national defense. It is a top priority that this nation maintains its aerial refueling capability.
“Importantly, this decision impacts Oklahoma. Both Altus and Tinker Air Force Bases will play a key role in operating, training and maintaining the KC-45. We need to acquire the right tanker and I look forward to working with the Department of Defense and the Air Force on this critical acquisition program.”
The key reasons GAO identified for sustaining the protest were:
- Air Force did not assess the relative merits of the proposals in accordance with the evaluation criteria identified in the solicitation
- Air Force violated a solicitation evaluation provision regarding exceeding a key performance parameter objective
- Air Force did not demonstrate the reasonableness of it's determination that Northrop Grumman's proposed aerial refueling tanker could refuel all current Air Force fixed-wing tanker-compatible receiver aircraft
- Air Force conducted misleading and unequal discussions with Boeing
- Air Force unreasonably determined that Northrop Grumman's refusal to agree to achieve initial organic depot-level maintenance within 2 years was an "administrative oversight"
- Air Force improperly increased Boeing's estimated non-recurring engineering costs in calculating that firm's most probable life cycle costs
- Air Force's evaluation of military construction costs in calculating the offerors' most probable life cycle costs for their proposed aircraft was unreasonable