Air Force Hints At Another Delay In Tanker Contract

December 21st, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: Air Force Hints At Another Delay In Tanker Contract

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
December 21, 2007 By Eric Rosenberg, Hearst Newspapers
WASHINGTON -- Lt. Gen. Donald Hoffman, a senior acquisitions official in the Air Force, said Thursday that there was a "reasonable chance" the service will again delay a decision on awarding a multibillion-dollar contract for a fleet of new tanker planes.
The Air Force had hoped to announce the winner of the contract by the end of December, but has pushed back the award a number of times, most recently to January and then to February.
Hoffman's comments indicate that the contract award could be pushed into March or later.
Hoffman, the senior military officer in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Air Force for acquisition, said the delays result from Air Force efforts to scrutinize the competing proposals from The Boeing Co. and a team of Northrop Grumman and Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co.
While the Air Force would prefer to announce its selection in February, Hoffman said, he told reporters in response to a question: "Sure, there's a reasonable chance" that the Air Force will delay it.
Hoffman said the Air Force was evaluating final proposals from the competitors. If the final proposals have changed substantively from earlier iterations, then the Air Force will need additional time to evaluate them, he said.
"We'll take whatever amount of time it takes to get to the right answer," Hoffman said.
The new tanker -- dubbed the KC-X -- will replace the Air Force's aging fleet of Boeing-built KC-135 tankers, which on average are 46 years old.
Boeing's entry, the KC-767, is based on a version of its 767 airliner, while the Airbus aircraft, called the KC-30, is based on its A330 airliner.
At stake is an initial contract for 179 tankers worth about $40 billion. With the addition of possible future tanker orders, the contract could eventually top $100 billion.

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