09 March 2008

The USAF Tanker deal - some thoughts

Quite frankly I was shocked to learn that the US Air Force had decided to select the Northrup Grumman/EADS team over Boeing. The decision had a seam of inevitability in it that was a train going to Abilene.

However in today's global economy where the words "National" and "Interests" are not always synomomous, this is a positive trend. But the decision criteria was not based on anything but the previously stated (and in my understanding) and fair set of rules. According to the statements from the USAF committee, Airbus won on all criteria accounts. The fall out in both Washingtons is going to reverberate for a long time.

Boeing would do well to accept the decision. If the criteria was flawed or if the result were not so clear cut then a protest should be conducted. However given the background and the time taken to make the decision, one can only believe that the review was conducted in the most strict of circumstances.

One of the arguments I have seen against the award has been the notion that high tech jobs are being outsourced to foreigners. Frankly I believe the opposite is the case. An industrial base of additional understanding especially in composites will be a direct result of this award.

Perhaps now that the decision has been made then we can only hope that there are some lessons to be learned here. One of the biggest lessons that should be learned is that the US Defense Acquisition process is flawed and needs rework.

One final thought is that there is a bad knock on effect within the airline industry. The 767 production line has been hanging on with some cargo based sales but very little new sales as customers wait for the 787. There is already a very big shortage of 767-300 size aircraft and the probably 18 month to 2 year total delay in the 787 program means a strong shortage of this size equipment. This is not good and will need monitoring in the coming months.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

At first everyone was going on about the "war fighter" - now its screw the war fighter, its all about jobs. Jobs in WA and KS mind you. No concern over jobs in Alabama. Pelosi has the gall to blame McCain.

See what we get for our tax dollars? Idiots in DC.

The Pentagon's selection team followed their instructions. They chose the best plane. This plane has now won 4/4 races its been in against the 767. It would seem this was a smart choice on the merits of the job description or mission.

BTW would you buy a tanker from a firm that is running years late for two small customers on their tankers? You would think that after 50 years of building tankers they would have it down by now.

EADS played a masterstroke brining their tanker to the Paris air show. And their tanker is flying and the first is about to be delivered. Not bad for a team that never built tankers until quite recently.