Boeing Files Protest: Airbus Pick 'Flawed'

boe.jpg Lazy B's 767 Tanker

Boeing today officially protested the awarding of the $35 billion Air Force tanker contract to Northrop Grumman and Airbus, calling the selection process “replete with irregularities."

In a statement, Boeing said it is asking the Government Accountability Office to examine several factors in the competition that were “fundamentally flawed". They include:

--The contract ignored the “reality" that Boeing and the Northrop/Airbus team were assigned identical ratings across all five evaluation factors, and that an objective review of the data shows Boeing had the better offer in life-cycle costs, risk and capability.

--Flaws resulted in a “significant gap" between the aircraft the Air Force originally set out to procure and the much larger Airbus A330-based tanker it ultimately selected. Frequent and often unstated changes during the course of the competition, including "manipulation" of evaluation criteria and application of unstated and unsupported priorities, “resulted in selection of an aircraft that was radically different from that sought by the Air Force and inferior to the Boeing 767 tanker offering."

--The Air Force “refused to accept" Boeing's financial projections and instead treated the company's airframe cost/price information as if it were a military-defense product, resulting in a “distortion" of the price.

--Officials “ignored" Boeing's uniqueness in producing a commercial-derivative tanker equipped with an operational aerial-refueling boom, instead focusing on "somewhat relevant" Northrop/Airbus programs, to the disadvantage of Boeing's experience.

"Our analysis of the data presented by the Air Force," said Boeing Tanker official Mark McGraw in a statement, “shows that this competition was seriously flawed and resulted in the selection of the wrong airplane for the warfighter." The GAO will now review the bid-selection process and decide whether it was fair or recommend a re-bid.

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