Boeing To Protest Air Tanker Contract With GAO

Boeing plans to file a protest with the Government Accountability Office on Tuesday, contesting the Air Force’s decision to award a $35 billion air tanker contract to Northrop Grumman and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company.

"Our team has taken a very close look at the tanker decision and found serious flaws in the process that we believe warrant appeal," said Jim McNerney, Boeing chairman, president and chief executive officer. "This is an extraordinary step rarely taken by our company, and one we take very seriously."

The protest was not particularly surprising: Boeing was outraged when they failed to win the contract for aerial refueling tankers. Many at the company considered the award an almost certainty.

The GAO must respond to the complaint within the next 100 days.

Last week, the Boeing’s congressional supporters slammed the decision, questioning the potential loss of jobs at a time of economic downturn and national security implications of putting military contracts in foreign hands.

On Tuesday, members of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee will raise their concerns in a closed door meeting with Sue Payton, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition. 
The committee chairman, Rep. John P. Murtha, (D-Pa.), has threatened to withhold funding for the program.

“When I look at our banks being bailed out by foreign countries, when I see a rising trade deficit with China and the rest of the world and when my staff gives me a paper that shows our Treasury and other U.S. agencies owe China $922 billion in debt, I think it’s imperative that the Air Force explain to this committee its decision to award a major U.S. weapons system to a foreign company,” he said in a statement last week.