Boeing v. Airbus

By Erick Posted in | | | | Comments (7) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

As you probably know, the Air Force ran afoul of the GAO in the past couple of weeks over its decision to give an air tanker deal to Airbus.

There is a lot of spin on both sides regarding the implications, outcome, etc.

Jed Babbin, who has a great deal of experience in these sorts of matters, sorts it all out.

The government is supposed to buy what it needs, not what it wants. And – in the case of combat systems, among which the tanker is certainly counted – the needs have to be defined by the warfighters. The government’s request for contractor proposals is supposed to define those needs in terms specific enough to enable the contractors to compete by offering the aircraft that best meets the precise need. But the Air Force -- bowing to political pressure -- crafted a specification so vague that two vastly different aircraft could arguably qualify under it.

To make matters worse, in the final stages of the competition, the Air Force cut the warfighters out of the loop and changed what they had said they needed to keep the European Airbus in the running for the contract. That and the other errors it made -- the process issues the GAO used to overturn the decision -- provide the lessons on which the Air Force can get it right in the days ahead.

Airbus Spies With Its Little Eye?Comments (18) »
Boeing v. Airbus 7 Comments (0 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

for obvious reasons, please do not think I am totally biased.
It took my husband about 10 minutes of reading to see that this whole process had run amuck. He and I both applaud the GAO on this one. The AF did a terrible job on this proposal and there is no easy way out now.
Bottom line, you don't change the rules in the middle of the game and you don't reward a product you really didn't ask for.
Just a typical, small town, British-American girl...

...who refused to even consider purchasing the aircraft if Boeing was the only bidder and Airbus knew that so they kept threatening to withdraw from the bidding process unless the Pentagon made the requirements "more fair."

But, on the other hand, Airbus proposed refitted A330 jetliners for the bid and Boeing refitted 767s. Airbus's proposed aircraft could carry more fuel and also had the capacity to transport troops and cargo.

But, on the other hand, "outsourcing" our national defense seems stupid.

But, on the other hand, Boeing wat the only American company that submitted a bid and if Boeing doesn't have any competition, where is its motivation to innovate?

But, on the other hand...No. No! There is no other hand! No, Chava! No! Traditaaaaann. Tradition!

....sorry, had a Tevye moment there. All that to say, there are no easy answers here, but Congress didn't help any.

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Process run amok or not our government should support national companies first unless the product needed is not available in the US.

The Harrier is a great example of an aircraft that is needed and no viable choice by a US manufacturer is available.


It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

Is not as pristine a US company as Boeing, and building airframes in Alabama is not as good as building airframes in OK.
While we're at it, no more armored vehicles built by Chrysler in Detroit, because Chrysler is owned by Benz.

I've no dog in this fight, but two points:

1) How old were the original tech specs in the RFP? I'd be surprised if they represented even ten-year-old technology. Modifying tech specs during the process, especially after they had to dump the original Boeing bid, makes sense.

2) No matter who wins, it's likely the same proportion of the aircraft will be built here.

Chrysler is not owned by Benz, but by an investment group led by a Hedge Fund.

Chrysler is no longer run by Daimler - they broke up last year and Chrysler was bought up by Cerberus.

Now that that's out of the way - Personally, I'd rather have Boeing - maybe it's because I'm from Seattle. I don't know. Boeing moved to Chicago so they're not "my" big company anymore.

This is the SECOND dust up the Air Force has gotten into about buying tankers - John McCain raised holy hell about the last one being too sweet to Boeing and one of the Air Force officials being promptly hired on with the contractor. Maybe this is an overreaction - the Air Force picking Airbus/Northrup Grumman to show fairness. Certainly, NG/AB played the game to the hilt (can't blame them) by threatening to back out - in light of the previous scandal it was the cunning move. Air Force has is caught between a rock and a hard place - damned if you do, damned if you don't. Maybe they don't get it - decide what you want, pick the best, and damn everyone else.

BTW, there's be a lot more companies bidding if we had a more robust industry. We allowed too many aerospace companies to fold or merge and now we have only one (Merged from Boeing and McDonnell-Douglass - a merger there!), and Europe has the other.
Take your pick - that's all we've got.


Cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience asks the question, is it right? - Martin Luther King, Jr.

The contract needs to be sole sourced to Boeing. Hopefully the Congress (especially the GOP) will wake up and see it it time to rebuild our Aerospace - Military Industry (one of the few USA owned non-automotive, non-farm/construction machinery, Industries left).

The second thing after that is to rebuild our electronics parts and electronics equipment industry also. These industries have been left to whither away and this threatens our national security.

If we ever had to fight a war like WWII where we needed to build a large military quickly, we could never do it with out running up huge trade deficits my importing the parts and equipment we need and borrowing the money from foreign countries to buy those parts & equipment.

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