State ‘bewildered' by decision to yank tanker bid process

Published 7:33 am Monday, September 15, 2008

By By Kerry Whipple Bean – publisher
The U.S. Air Force on Wednesday announced it would cancel the current bid process for a new tanker, which delays the awarding of the bid until the next administration.
Mobile's Northrup Grumman, in partnership with EADS North America, has been in contention for the bid. The Air Force actually awarded the project to Northrup Grumman, but a protest from rival Boeing brought the process back to a bidding situation.
The Air Force had awarded the contract for what's known as the KC-X to the Northrop-Grumman/EADS/Airbus consortium, which prompted a protest from rival bidder Boeing. The General Accountability Office found irregularities in the awarding of the contract, and Gates determined to re-open the bidding process on July 9.
Escambia County economic development officials have said a Mobile-based tanker project could bring more jobs to southwest Alabama, including Escambia County, through spinoff industries.
Alabama officials decried the delay.
Alabama Gov. Bob Riley said he found the decision “bewildering.”
Gates told House Armed Services committee representatives that the department has been trying for seven years to find the proper way to replace the current fleet of KC-135 tankers. Over that time, the process has become most complex and emotional, Gates said, partly because of Defense Department mistakes.

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