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Thu, Jun 12, 2008

Northrop Grumman Once Again Slams Competitor's KC-X Bid

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 opposite.

"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 Confidence.'"

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.



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