Mobile, Ala. official: Splitting A.F. tanker a ‘no-brainer’

Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer

Officials from Mobile, Ala., are in Washington, D.C., today to lobby Congress over the Air Force tanker contract.

The Air Force is expected to expected to release its final requirements for the $35 billion tanker contract tomorrow.

Northrop Grumman and EADS would assemble their tanker in Mobile. But Northrop officials believe the initial Air Force rules favored Boeing’s 767 tanker. Mobile’s representatives, therefore, are OK with a split contract.

A dual-buy would sustain Boeing’s supply chain as well as create 50,000 jobs for Northrop and EADS’ tanker, said Mike Dean, president, Mobile County Commission.

“If the administration and Congress are serious about legitimate, lasting, stimulus then this is a no-brainer,” said Connie Hudson, Mobile City councilwoman. “Let’s put people to work now and get the military the equipment it needs”

If Northrop drops out of the contest, as the company’s CEO has threatened if he believes it favor Boeing, then a Boeing sole-source win means “30 years of delays and cost overruns,” Dean said.

If Northrop bids, the cycle of protests and rebids continues.

Today, however, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley reiterated that the Pentagon does not want to split the contract, reports Reuters.