UPDATE: Tanked

A Washington Post story notes that under the final version of the 2005 Defense Authorization Bill, approved by the House and the Senate, that the 767 Tanker program is dead but could possibly rise from the grave. It says

the Air Force can buy as many as 100 of the refueling aircraft through a traditional purchase but not lease them initially, as had been planned. The measure sets aside $100 million to start the program and requires the Air Force to hold a competition for a $5 billion contract to maintain the aircraft. Boeing had been awarded the maintenance work without competition.

But the exact terms of that resurrection are not totally clear.

“Any program to acquire tankers must start from the beginning . . . on a traditional budget, procurement, and authorization track,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chief critic of the lease-buy strategy, said in an exchange on the Senate floor with Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Warner said he agreed.

But House members, including Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, disagreed.

“The most important point is we don’t have to go back and have another procurement, because if we did that it would take years and years before we would start getting the tankers,” said Rep. Norman D. Dicks (D-Wash.), whose district includes thousands of Boeing workers. “And I believe it’s the position of the Congress that this is going to be built by an American company.”

See yesterday’s post on this issue for more.


  1. Ah, the power of a man and a bunch of electrons to bring some sanity to government procuremnt processes. Nice work. Seriously, what do other comapnies do when they have excess capacity and don’t want to shut down production? Lower prices. Why can’t Boeing make the USAF an attractive deal? Rather than what sure looked like a corporate handout, they should sharpen their pencils and make it worth our while. ‘Sure we can help out. How important is it to you?’ I acknowledge the value in keeping a competitive, competent aviation industry in the US, but didn’t we sell that down the river when we let the merger-mania get us to where we only have one choice on most things? Douglas built some damned fine airplanes once. Can’t we order from them?

  2. Agreed. If Boeing REALLY wants to keep that line running, and the Air Force REALLY wants (needs) to buy new tankers, I’d think a deal could be reached. You know, what they used to call a ‘compromise’. As long as the planes really meet Air Force requirements, I’m all for it. And whatever happened to Douglas? After the whole McDonnel thing, anyway? Is that part of Lockheed now? Or vice-versa?