Richard Shelby and the Northrop-Boeing tanker war
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today ... :
The tanker purchases and new FBI center could benefit Shelby's state enormously, so the fact that his extraordinary action isn't at all based on principle does not surprise me. What's really perplexing is how he could think that going to such lengths to assist Northrop Grumman Corp. and European aerospace giant European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co., who would conduct major assembly of their A330-based aerial refueling tanker in Alabama, would actually help their chances of winning the contract.
Boeing Co. successfully challenged the Air Force's decision in 2008 to award the $40-billion deal to the Northrop-EADS team partly because of allegations that changes made to the evaluation criteria during the bidding process benefited the winners. Shelby is now asking the Air Force to "significantly and substantially" alter the tanker RFP draft in favor of Northrop-EADS. Should Shelby get his wish and if the Northrop-EADS team wins the contract (which I don't think will happen, as a split buy or outright Boeing win seem like the only viable options), you can bet Boeing would file another protest.
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-- Paul Thornton
Photo credit: Karin Cooper / Associated Press