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Boeing vs Northop, Round 783. Fight!

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Yes, its yet another in a series of “when is he coming back, I can’t stand this new guy” posts. We probably all know Farley’s views on the Air Force, and just why it needs to be folded back into the Army and Navy (and no, I don’t mean the department store). The poor old USAF has been having a torrid time recently, what with the firings and all.
Now the GAO has decided to get in on the action, weighing in on the matter of the proposed air-to-air refuelling tanker. Originally this contract was to go to Boeing. Then it turned out there’d been some skullduggery and kickbacks involved, and massive fines were levied, along with jail time.

Then the contract was handed over to the foreigners, EADS/Airbus, although in truth the primary contractor was Northrop Grumman and the planes were going to be built in the US. Not only that, they were better planes in just about every way. Every way but one; they didn’t come with Boeing’s crack team of lobbyists. Boeing whined and whined, and the GAO decided to look into their claims, and has actually upheld Boeing’s complaints. Which I guess puts us back at square one.

Expect much chest-beating jingoism to be brought to bear on Boeing’s behalf; I wouldn’t be surprised if they get the contract after all. Good news for Washington, not such good news for Alabama, since Airbus was going to build a massive new plant there to assemble all their A330s. If they’ve lost the contract, I can’t see any reason for them to continue with that plan, and that means a loss of hi tech jobs in a state that probably needs them.

It’s also bad news for the Air Force, who might not get the plane they want, which was also the best one for the job. But then I might just be biased towards Airbus since:

  • A: I’m one of those communists from across the pond
  • B: when I fly back across that pond I prefer to do it in an A333 since they have nice seats and real live 110v AC sockets under them in coach
  • C: Northrop built a way cooler-looking fighter (the YF-23) than Boeing (the YF-32)

Expect this mess to get sorted out sometime by 2014. I hope those old converted 707s can keep flying until then!

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