TANKER WAR….Back when the Air Force was looking for a new fleet of tankers, it turned out that Boeing’s 767 wasn’t really all that well suited for the job. What to do? Let Boeing rewrite the specs:
In the process, Boeing eliminated 19 of the 26 capabilities the Air Force originally wanted, and the Air Force acquiesced in order to keep the price down.
The Air Force then gave Boeing competitor Airbus 12 days to bid on the project and awarded the contract to Boeing even though Airbus met more than 20 of the original 26 specifications and offered a price that was $10 billion less than Boeing’s.
….Among the original Air Force requirements Boeing eliminated was that the new tanker be equipped to refuel all the military services’ aircraft, refuel multiple aircraft simultaneously, and carry passengers, wounded troops and cargo. Boeing also eliminated an Air Force requirement that the new tankers be at least as effective and efficient as the 40-year-old KC-135 tankers they would replace.
Hey, I’ll give ’em a pass on the whole Airbus thing. After all, they’re made in France, aren’t they? Can’t have that.
But it sure would be nice if the shiny new tankers were at least as good as the ancient rattletraps they were replacing. And maybe they could shave $10 billion off their price while they’re at it.