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Timeline: the long road to a tanker contract

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Herald staff
  • In March 2008, Boeing machinists protest the decision to award the tanker contract to Northop Grumman and EADS.

    Herald file

    In March 2008, Boeing machinists protest the decision to award the tanker contract to Northop Grumman and EADS.

  • Boeing workers at the Everett plant celebrate a day after the company won the Air Force contract.

    Michael O'Leary / The Herald

    Boeing workers at the Everett plant celebrate a day after the company won the Air Force contract.

Dec. 18, 2001: Boeing, Air Force consider deal to lease 100 tankers.
Jan. 29, 2002: Boeing lobbyists push for tanker contract. Boeing's advocates met resistance from critics including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who complained the government was going to pay much more to lease the aircraft than it would to buy them -- perhaps double the purchase price. He sees Boeing as the biggest "war profiteers" yet. "Whatever Boeing wants, Boeing gets," McCain said. "As long as they continue to be able to contribute huge amounts of campaign contributions, they will probably continue to get good deals."
Nov. 7, 2003: Boeing gets long-awaited 767 tanker deal. "Crank up the 767 line," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.. "We're sending a hundred-plane order your way."
Nov. 24, 2003: Boeing acknowledges ethics scandal between executive and Pentagon weapons buyer. "Compelling evidence of this misconduct by Mr. Sears and Ms. Druyun came to light over the last two weeks," said Phil Condit, Boeing CEO, who resigns a week later.
June 9, 2004: Sen. John McCain moves against Boeing in tanker deal.
Nov. 23, 2004: The Pentagon calls off tanker contract with Boeing, says contest must be rebid.
March 11, 2005: Boeing says it may halt 767 production after initial tanker contract fails.
Sept. 8, 2005: Northrop, EADS team up for U.S. Air Force tanker bid.
April 11, 2007: Boeing, Northrop submit bids for $35 billion tanker contest.
Oct. 7, 2007: Alabama senators demand apology after Boeing official calls state a "risky" place to build a tanker.
Feb. 29, 2008: In a surprise move, the Air Force awards tanker contract to Northrop Grumman and EADS. Air Force officials say the EADS' tanker provides "more, more, more."
March 11, 2008: Boeing files protest of tanker contract with the Government Accountability Office, saying the Air Force changed its requirements to favor Northrop and EADS.
June 16, 2008: Boeing supporters dub Northrop-EADS tanker 'Les Mis.' Other names included 'Tankosaurus' and 'Scarebus.'
June 18, 2008: Government auditors find flaws in Air Force contest, side with Boeing, to the applause of the company's unions. "This is not a done process. Everyone knows that," said Tom Wroblewski, president of the local Boeing's Machinists union. "The first quarter is over. We just won."
June 24, 2008: A Mobile, Ala.-based company says it wants to give Boeing "a finger." The owner of Foosackly's, a chicken finger restaurant, hasn't been too pleased with the Boeing Co.'s efforts to strip Northrop Grumman and EADS of a $35 billion Air Force tanker contract.
June 27, 2008: Lawmakers introduce bill that would force Air Force to rebid tanker or give contract to Boeing. "The Air Force used a flawed and incompetent process to evaluate the original KC-X tanker proposal," said Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan.
July 30, 2008: The pro-EADS group, Alabamians to Build American Tankers, is formed. "Boeing accused Alabama workers of not being up to the task," said said Mobile firefighter Bryan Lee, who founded the group. "Boeing's supporters have continuously tried to smear our workers and our opportunity."
Sept. 10, 2008: Defense Department called for a "do-over" in tanker contest.
April 23, 2009: Both Boeing and EADS said they'd be OK with splitting the tanker contract.
Sept. 16, 2009: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gives the Air Force back the authority to oversee the tanker contest after previously stripping the Air Force's powers. The Pentagon "cannot afford the kind of letdowns, parochial squabbles, and corporate food-fights that have bedeviled this effort in the past," Gates said.
March 8, 2010: EADS' partner, Northrop Grumman bows out of tanker contest. Boeing's supporters tentatively begin to celebrate. "We're not ready to pop the champagne cork yet, but I think it's a very positive development," said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
March 31, 2010: The Air Force agrees to extend the tanker deadline 60 days to allow EADS, which is still seen as the underdog, a chance to compete.
"A sole-sourced contract would have served only Boeing's interests," said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.
July 8, 2010: Boeing, EADS submit initial bids in round three of Air Force tanker contest.
July 21, 2010: Mobile, Ala. mayor Sam Jones tells CNN: 'I'm confident we'll win the competition again. I think Boeing believes that.'
Aug. 8, 2010: Late entrant, U.S. Aerospace, protests the Air Force's dismissal of its bid, which was turned in late, on the basis of discrimination, bad directions.
Oct. 4, 2010: The Air Mobility command says it doesn't have enough tankers if war should break out.
Nov. 19, 2010: Air Force admits it gave Boeing and EADS information about each other's bid for the tanker contract.
Feb. 24, 2011: The Air Force declares the Boeing Co. the "clear winner" of the tanker contest.



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