USAF Chief Downplays Tanker Document Mix-Up: No Pricing Data Released

By Eric Beidel
After a rash of reports that suggested otherwise, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz said today that documents sent to competing bidders for a new air-refueling tanker contained no pricing information.
Schwartz said that two employees have been removed from their roles in the program for their part in the mix-up, but that the acquisition strategy will remain the same. After conducting an internal and independent review of the matter, Schwartz said that the Air Force believes both companies remain on a level playing field.
Boeing Co. and EADS North America are vying for a contract to replace 50-year-old Boeing KC-135 tankers. In what the Pentagon has called an inadvertent mistake, the Air Force sent information about each company’s proposals to the other.
Despite media reports that the information contained crucial pricing information, Schwartz told reporters Nov. 23 in Washington, D.C., that the mistake involved “a single page of nonproprietary data.”
Each company received the results of an efficiency study on the other’s aircraft, Schwartz said. The data shows how many tankers would be required to complete a specific mission, he said.
The aircraft offered by the competitors — both Boeing’s 767 and EADS’ A330 — vary in size and the amount of fuel they can carry. The Air Force has since provided each company with the same information on the efficiency analysis. Schwartz said he believed that both still have a fair shot at the estimated $50 billion deal, which calls for 179 refueling planes.
The Air Force recently announced that it would delay the contract award until early next year for reasons not having to do with the recent document error, Schwartz said. It was originally slated to take place next month.

Topics: Aviation, Business Trends, Doing Business with the Government, Defense Department, Procurement, Defense Department

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