More talk of Boeing, Northrop splitting tanker contract

It’s a scenario that just won’t die: Splitting the U.S. Air Force tanker contract between the Boeing Co. and duo Northrop Grumman and EADS.

As early as mid-February, the Air Force is expected to release its final requirements for replacing 179 of its KC-135 tankers. The contract, estimated at roughly $35 billion, has drawn the eyes of both Boeing and Northrop.

With jobs still hard to come by, politicians are doing what it takes to land those tanker jobs for people in their areas.

For Sam Jones, mayor of Mobile, Ala., that meant slipping a note to an aide of President Barack Obama, reports POLITICO. Jones is lobbying for splitting the contract, ensuring jobs for people in Mobile, who would build tankers for Northrop and EADS.

“If we’re going to bring about change, you’ve got to change some of the things you do,” Jones told POLITICO, suggesting the tanker competition, which already has been scuttled twice amid roiling controversy, could fail again.

“I don’t see how we’re going to move forward with the contract as it stands today,” he said.

Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., took a different approach when lobbying for Boeing, which would modify Everett-built tankers in Kansas. Tiahrt essentially called EADS corrupt in this opinion piece in Human Events.

Quin Hillyer, senior editor for The American Spectator, criticized Tiahrt in this post. Hillyer has been advocated the dual buy approach since 2007. Hillyer also calls out Defense Secretary Robert Gates for his refusal to even consider the split-buy approach:

The refusal of Defense Secretary Bob Gates even to consider a split buy is a serious dereliction of responsibility and of good sense. I have been told that rather than even examining the idea seriously, with dispassion, he has let it be known that those who so much as advocate it are treading on thin ice. This bullheadedness is an outrage at least, if not a sign of something badly and suspiciously amiss.

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