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A 10-year tango over the Air Force tanker contract dances on, leaving Spokane aerospace interests to anticipate potential effects. Those aerospace interests gathered Thursday in Spokane to meet with Sen. Patty Murray to discuss what’s next in the Air Force’s quest to replace its aging fleet of KC-135 tankers.
A KC-135 air refueling tanker from Fairchild Air Force base rendezvoused Thursday, July 22, 2010, with members of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbird demonstration team en route to Spokane for Skyfest 2010.
Boeing submitted its bid today for the Air Force’s $35 billion refueling jet contract as the military tries once again to pick a winner for the troubled program after several failed attempts. Boeing will compete against the North American branch of the European aerospace company EADS, which put in its own bid late Thursday.
The deadline for bids on a $35 billion contract for refueling jets will be extended by 60 days so the European maker of Airbus can compete, the Pentagon said Wednesday.
Five members of Washington’s congressional delegation are urging Defense Secretary Robert Gates to stick with the existing timeline for choosing a manufacturer for the next air refueling tanker rather than extend it. Without mentioning either company by name, they are supporting the Boeing Co. and trying to close out rival Airbus.
The selection of a new plane to replace the Air Force’s aging tanker fleet could be finalized within a year, a four-star general said Friday at Fairchild Air Force Base. Gen. Arthur J. Lichte, who leads the Air Mobility Command, said a draft proposal seeking bids from plane manufacturers will be released next month.
The selection of new plane to replace the Air Force’s aging tanker fleet could be finalized within a year, a four-star general said Friday at Fairchild Air Force Base.
A draft version of the military’s specifications for its next air tanker should be out by the end of May, Air Force officials told a regional delegation Thursday. The Air Force’s “request for proposal,” the formal invitation for companies to bid on the tanker contract, is expected by late summer.
The way it’s looking, the country’s next generation of aerial refueling tankers will be in the pipeline for more than a decade before the first plane goes into service. That may explain why a couple of key congressmen are getting impatient, but it doesn’t justify the hasty response they are proposing. Rather than demand that the Pentagon choose the best bid, Reps. John Murtha, D-Pa., and Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, think the two competitors should share the lucrative contract as an expedient way of overcoming political delays and getting the project on track.
WASHINGTON – Despite opposition from the Pentagon, one of the most powerful members of the House Appropriations Committee is considering including a provision in an upcoming supplemental defense bill that would split the $35 billion contract for Air Force refueling tankers between Boeing and a European competitor. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., the chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, said that with the U.S. fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, additional delays in replacing the current fleet of aerial refueling tankers, some of which date to the Eisenhower era, are unacceptable.
Ripples from a growing dispute involving the United States, Russia and a Central Asian country could reach the Spokane area. Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic that has been home to U.S. Air Force aerial tankers for more than seven years, is threatening to close the Manas Air Base to Americans and other Western military units.
With the U.S. House and Senate competing with each other to see who can add what to the stimulus package, one might think all the crazy ideas to spend taxpayer money are just about used up. One would be wrong, of course.