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Air Force contract rules questioned

Dan Grech Jan 8, 2007


SCOTT JAGOW: Refueling airplanes in midair sounds pretty difficult. But apparently, so is deciding who should provide the Air Force that service. More now from Marketplace’s Dan Grech.

DAN GRECH: The Air Force is looking to refresh its fleet of 500 tanker planes bought half a century ago.

The contract extends over many years and is worth a whopping $100 billion.

Two companies are vying for the contract: Boeing and Northrop Grumman. Northrop wouldn’t make the tanker planes, but it would it buy them from Airbus and retrofit them. But Northrop says the Air Force bid guidelines effectively favor Boeing’s smaller aircraft.

Graham Warwick is with Flight International magazine. He says Northrop’s threat to drop out of the competition may be gamesmanship.

GRAHAM WARWICK: So both Boeing and Northrop are maneuvering in this stage of the competition to try to get the requirements that best fit their aircraft so that when they finally get a bid in, they have some advantage over the competition.

The A330 is larger than Boeing’s 767 and can carry more cargo, but the Air Force bid rules don’t benefit larger planes.

In New York, I’m Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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