July 09, 2008
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today made the following statement about Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ announcement that the KC-45 tanker contract cannot currently be awarded because of deficiencies in the process identified by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
“This nation and our Air Force need a new tanker – it is a requirement that is long overdue and a requirement that will continue to be unmet years after a tanker contract is actually awarded. Today’s announcement by the Secretary of Defense will likely result in an additional delay of nearly 10 months in the acquisition of the KC-45. This delay directly impacts Oklahoma, specifically Altus and Tinker Air Force Bases, which will play a key role in operating, training and maintaining the KC-45.
“There is no guarantee that the Department of Defense will meet the December timeline set for deciding the contract award, and there is no guarantee that there will not be another protest. It is my hope that the Department of Defense will be able to amend the existing Request for Proposal to meet all concerns of both bidders and conduct the re-compete openly and fairly, maximizing the potential for the contract to be awarded without further protest.
“Securing a new air refueling tanker is vital to the national security of the United States, and the time has become critical for its acquisition.”
On February 29, 2008, U.S.-based Boeing lost the long-awaited Air Force tanker contract for the KC-45 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 GAO on March 11, 2008. Last month, the GAO decided to sustain Boeing’s tanker protest of the KC-45 aerial refueling tanker contract for the following reasons: