Says USAF Had "Little Confidence" In Boeing's Performance
In one of the most inflammatory missives to date to come
from Northrop Grumman regarding the US Air Force's selection of the
Northrop/EADS KC-45A over Boeing's KC-767A, the American defense
contractor said the USAF pointedly gave Boeing a rating of "little
confidence" in being able to meet its performance promises, based
on its past experience.
"When the Air Force puts a contract up for bid, a contractor's
report card on related projects is a key factor in helping the Air
Force decide whether the contractor can complete its work on time
and on budget," Northrop says in its latest "Why We Won" release.
"While Boeing argues that its past record in building tankers
should make it a clear winner over Northrop Grumman, the Air Force
looked at Boeing's track record and concluded exactly the
"Because replacing its aging tanker fleet is a top priority for
the Air Force, it paid special attention to each company's past
record. After doing so, it reached this finding about Boeing's past
program management, an important sub-factor in the crucial Past
Performance category: "There was a notable difference between the
two offerors. Northrop Grumman received a rating of 'Satisfactory
Confidence,' while Boeing received a rating of 'Little
Northrop says a rating of little
confidence means the Air Force concluded that "Based on the
offeror's performance record, substantial doubt exists the offeror
will successfully perform the required effort."
The reasons for the Air Force's poor rating of Boeing were
redacted for business competition purposes. "But it is no secret
that Boeing built its last new KC-135 over 40 years ago and has now
lost five consecutive tanker competitions," Northrop says. "Before
losing the KC-45 tanker contract to Northrop Grumman, Boeing had
lost four straight tanker bids with foreign governments. It is also
true that Boeing is three years late and counting in delivering a
tanker to Italy, and Italy still has no tanker.
"Boeing was also more than a year late in delivering an
airworthy tanker to Japan, which still does not have an
operationally certified tanker," Northrop adds. "The Air Force
would have been derelict in its obligation under the law to provide
taxpayers with the best value for their dollar had it not taken
these facts into consideration."
As ANN has reported, Boeing
has protested to the Government Accountability Office on the
awarding of the KC-X contract to Northrop/EADS. The GAO is due to
rule on that protest later this month.
That means an equally pointed response from Boeing is likely in
the offing, too. Stay tuned.