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Boeing Gains Ally in Tanker Battle

Posted on Jun 18, 2008
Northrop Grumman

The KC-45 tanker by Northrop Grumman is part of a $40-billion program to help maintain U.S. empire through military might.

Boeing has friends in high places, as evidenced by the congressional Government Accountability Office siding Wednesday with the U.S. aviation giant in a protest against a multibillion-dollar refueling tanker contract that was awarded earlier this year to a U.S.-Europe team.

The position the GAO and Boeing offer is that errors were made during the bidding process. Others believe Boeing is creating controversy by using issues around national pride and jobs to derail an otherwise fair deal.

For a full discussion on this tanker deal and other military-industrial complex issues, check out Robert Scheer’s new book “The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America.”

The New York Times:

The Government Accountability Office on Wednesday backed Boeing’s protest of the awarding of a multibillion-dollar contract for refueling tankers to Northrop Grumman and a European partner, saying the Air Force made errors during the process.

The G.A.O., the investigative arm of Congress, recommended that the Air Force reopen the bidding and obtain revised proposals.

The $40 billion tanker program is the Air Force’s No. 1 priority, intended to replace a fleet of aerial refueling tankers—which provide fuel to fighter jets and cargo planes in mid-air—that date back to the Eisenhower administration and which are being stressed in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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By Inherit The Wind, June 19, 2008 at 10:22 am Link to this comment

N-G is plugged into the GOP, mainly, and Boeing is more plugged into the Dems.  Therefore, the process was set up (under Bush, of course) to not only cut Boeing out, but not to even let them get in a bid.

When our economy is in trouble, and even our plane-building industry is softening, why would it be in our best interests to ship jobs overseas rather than create them here, at home?

This would be good for everyone but N-G and Airbus.

Unlike all other products, military major systems need to be produced at home.  Sure, France is our ally today, and has been our ally for 225 years, but she has not been our BEST ally in the 20th or 21st centuries.

I’d argue that security control is better within our borders, but Bush and his Homeland Security forces have shown what a mockery that is—taking nail-clippers at airports, but not checking containers at ports—and hiring firms based in the ME (but not Israel) to handle port security!

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By Louise, June 18, 2008 at 7:36 pm Link to this comment

OK, now here’s the unbiased report:

The Northrop Grumman-EADS tanker is based on the newer Airbus A330 airframe. The planes are built in Toulouse, France, with final assembly planned for a new plant in Mobile, Ala. Boeings entire production would be U.S. based.

The Airbus refueler is a space guzzler - it needs more runway, more apron for its giant wing span, and redesigned boarding gates. And the Air Force jets it is intended to refuel will all require retrofitting to accommodate the Airbus version of fuel delivery. Yeh, that’s a real cost-safer! GAO and Boeing are kindly referring to the foul as an error. Error my foot!

Northrop Grumman is the nation’s sole industrial designer, builder and refueler of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, and one of only two companies that design and build nuclear-powered submarines. Specifically the multi-capability Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine, like the ones Lieberman ordered. No competition there. It’s extremely unlikely they’ll hurt if they don’t get to dominate the Air Force too.

Airbus wants a piece of our war, and Northrop Grumman wants it all. A happy marriage. And we weren’t invited to the wedding.

Gives new meaning to the notion that war pays. Especially if everything that fly’s and floats ends up in the stock portfolio of ONE single corporation. That’s what we should be taking offense at! That’s what the Pentagon needs to explain!

I’m as fed up with our war culture as anyone, but as long as we have an Air Force. And as long as our kids are flying those planes, I want the U.S. to be building whatever they need to safely stay in the sky. I suspect there have been promises and payoffs behind closed doors. Not really hard to believe given the various leaders we have and have had running the Pentagon the last few years. People who place lies ahead of truth. War ahead of peace. Personal profit ahead of national interest and sometimes allegiance to a foreign nation ahead of protecting the security of the United States. They aren’t going to lose any sleep over handing American jobs, American tax dollars, and American safety over to a foreign nation.

Personally I find NYT and truthdig editors implication that wanting these tankers to be built entirely in America, and entirely by an American work force is somehow wrong, to be grossly offensive.

Next thing you know, they’ll be telling us it’s not nice to grow our own tomatoes! 

Meanwhile, while Congress and the Pentagon and Airbus and Boeing have been dickering the contract cost estimate has gone from $20 billion to $40 billion, and counting. And while whoever ends up building it will make a handsome profit, as will their respective stock holders, you and I will foot the bill. Maybe that’s another good reason they should be manufactured in their entirety here! Lord knows, the way the Pentagon and this administration have been spending [and misplacing] money, we need all the help we can get!

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