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Boeing Backers Seize On Tanker Rebid

No sooner did the Pentagon inform Congress about the details of a new competition for Air Force aerial refueling tankers than Boeing and its supporters were mining them for evidence of bias.

The Pentagon today is restarting the competition between Boeing and Northrop Grumman and its partner, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co.

The Government Accountability Office urged the Pentagon to redo the competition after it found problems with the award that Boeing had protested.

The Pentagon’s acquisition chief, John Young, wants to choose a winner by the end of the year. But judging by initial reaction, that could take a while.

According to George Behan, a spokesman for Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), the revised request for proposals favors a larger aircraft.

Northrop Grumman has offered a modification of the A330 aircraft as the KC-45 tanker. It is larger than the KC-767, which Boeing has offered.

But the GAO never noted a problem with the size of the aircraft. The GAO said the flaw was the fact that the Air Force did something differently than it said it would. For example, it wouldn’t provide extra credit for exceeding requirements, as Northrop did with a larger plane.

The new document addresses the GAO’s problem by allowing extra credit for exceeding requirements.