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Air Force General Wants An End To Tanker Feud

The four-star general in charge of the Air Force’s aerial refueling tankers called for a speedy resolution to the Pentagon’s attempt to buy new tankers, but said he worries the decision could get bogged down again.

“I’m not sure I see a way forward,” Gen. Arthur J. Lichte, the commander of Air Mobility Command, said at a Defense Writers Group breakfast.

In June, Boeing lodged a successful protest against the Air Force’s contract award to Northrop Grumman and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. The Pentagon is monitoring a second competition, and Lichte, a tanker pilot, said he wouldn’t be surprised if there were another tanker protest.
“I just don’t understand at some point, how do you stop and say, okay, this company wins or this company loses,” Lichte said. “With the poisonous nature of all the comments that are out there right now, I don’t know how we make peace with everybody and say, okay, let’s go forward.”

Despite the trouble, Lichte stressed the urgency of rapidly moving forward to build new tankers, because the old fleet is aging.
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