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Four more years! Four More years!

New tanker award might take up to 4 years, General Schwartz says

A new contract for aerial refueling tankers could take as long as four years to award if the next administration decides to initiate the program from a “cold start,” U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz said.

The schedule possibilities could range between “the most aggressive possible” of as little as eight months to the “most lengthy” course of as many as 48 months, Schwartz told reporters Monday at a press conference today in Washington.

We all know that talk of “eight months” is simply unbelievable. Haven’t we been hovering near the “most aggressive possible” level for five years now?

And this:

the Pentagon last week said the current fleet of 445 KC-135 planes, averaging over 40 years old, “can be adequately maintained to satisfy Air Force missions for the near future.”

I like how the KC-135s flip between ‘okay for now’ and ‘on the verge of falling out of the sky’ depending on the day’s political situation.

UPDATE: Also see Snakes and Ladders at Flight Global:

Will Gates’ mandated “cooling-off” period finally allow a rational, fair and intelligent selection process? Will the politicians content themselves to a strictly observational role? Will either Boeing or Northrop Grumman abstain from a protest?

What is likely now is the opposite. This is when the real political manoeuvring, posturing and scheming begin. Gates’ abrupt cease-fire will not stop the gamesmanship it will force it to a new level.

Boeing had this one in the bag years ago and it got away amid a lousy lease deal and a significant amount of corruption. Now, thanks to the latest delay, the competitors not only have more time time lobby their plane, they have an opportunity to lobby for changes to the requirements.

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