Tanker Deal Backlash
The Pentagon's remarkable decision last week to stiff Boeing and award a $40 billion deal for refueling tankers to rivals Northrop Grumman and European Aeronautic Defence and Space continues to roil Congress.
A Boeing win was a foregone conclusion -- or so it seemed. As Loren B. Thompson, a defense consultant, told my colleague Dana Hedgpeth in the Post: "It is a stunning upset in which the underdog won...Everybody expected Boeing to win. Boeing has been doing this for half a century, and it was simply assumed they knew what the Air Force wanted better than other companies."
Some members of Congress are up in arms, as they say. This has gotten personal. How dare the DoD give a contract for that many billions to a...European competitor.
"We should have an American tanker built by an American company with American workers," Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kansas), a member of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, told CQ Today. "I cannot believe we would create French jobs in place of Kansas jobs."
"I am very concerned that this decision means that the women and men in our military will not get the best tanker to meet our nation's security needs," Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) was quoted as saying in the Chicago Tribune.
Other members of Congress? Not so much. It turns out that the lawmakers like Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida whose districts might get work from the deal aren't quite as vexed.
"We really need something like this," Nelson told the Orlando Sentinel. "NASA just said it was cutting jobs in the area, and these 500 new high-tech jobs will really help."
Not surprisingly, Boeing is distressed by the unexpected turn. Among other things, they may have to shut down their 767 line of planes as orders wane in the coming years. They have demanded -- and likely will this week receive -- a debriefing from Air Force officials about just what happened.
More on this from the Financial Times.
And this from Hedgpeth and The Post this morning.
By the way
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