The “new and improved” tanker contest between the Boeing Co. and Northrop-EADS has “all the transparency of the FBI’s witness protection program,” writes Loren B. Thompson, a defense analyst with the Lexington Institute.
Thompson just published this scathing look at the Obama administration’s approach to solving the Pentagon’s acquisitions process as it pertains to the Air Force aerial refueling tankers.
As you may remember, Thompson had the inside track last year as the tanker contest unraveled. The Air Force awarded the lucrative contract to Northrop Grumman and its partner EADS. The Pentagon’s decision was “proved to be so poorly executed that the whole process was overturned by the Government Accountability Office,” Thompson wrote.
Unfortunately, Thompson seems to think the Pentagon is headed for another debacle if it continues on its current path:
The performance requirements for the future tankers were blessed by the Pentagon’s Joint Requirements Oversight Council with almost no input from industry, and now the acquisition strategy is being crafted in much the same way. If you were planning to spend $100 billion over the next 30 years on a new aircraft fleet, wouldn’t you want to check with the only two qualified suppliers to determine whether your terms and specifications were reasonable?
The new competition, Thompson writes, is being carried out with “great secrecy” than even last year’s contest. Thompson lays the blame at Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ feet, saying Gates will bear the responsibility if this round is disputed again.
“When it comes to buying weapons, this really is the worst form of government except for all the others, to quote Churchill,” writes Thompson.
Check out my previous blog post for other tanker news out this morning.