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July 09, 2008

Inhofe Statement on KC-45 Tanker Contract Announcement

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:

  • 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


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