Sunday, April 13, 2008

KC-45 Contract Protest: The Other Side

Well we're getting earfuls from Boeing--let's hear the other side for a change...

The other day I got an e-mail from the America’s New Tanker website (Northrop Grumman’s) that was written as a response to yet ANOTHER Boeing newspaper ad in Boeing’s Disinformatsia campaign. Since (based on my observations) I think mostly what Boeing is doing is providing factoids out of context to morph Boeing’s KC767 bid into something better than it was, I thought it would be interesting to look at the other side to Boeing’s ‘claims’. [My few comments are in bold and brackets]

In a full-page newspaper advertising, today, Boeing is, once again, presenting a misleading story about why the Air Force selected Northrop Grumman's KC-45 --America's New Tanker. The tag line is "Less capable, more costly." This is accurate - but only if applied to Boeing's losing bid. [Ouch!] Let's review the ad, point by point:

MYTH: Boeing claims that its losing bid received the "highest possible mission capability rating in meeting or exceeding key performance parameters."

FACT: This statement ignores the fact that Northrop Grumman's KC-45 was rated equally as high and graded as "more advantageous." The KC-45 has even greater capability than Boeing's KC-767, with 30% more fuel off-load ability at range and more cargo capacity. Boeing's claim that the KC-767 can take off from more airfields is absolutely false. The KC-45 can launch from more of the world's air fields carrying more fuel. [I suspect the disconnect between the two positions is that Boeing’s calculations in claiming more airfields is their perceived advantage in going into smaller airfields, while NG’s numbers probably include airfields that are farther away than the KC-767 can use in specific scenarios. I also suspect that Boeing’s claimed advantage is due at least in part to their insistence in using the standard airfield spacing on the ramps vs. the contingency spacing the Air Force used in their modeling.]
Most important is the undisputed fact that the KC-45 was rated superior in 4 of the 5 major criteria that the Air Force reviewed and tied in the 5th. Northrop Grumman's tanker is, without question, more capable.

MYTH: Boeing claims greater "survivability."

FACT: Evaluating against 200 requirements, the Air Force found no survivability weaknesses with the KC-45, but did find unique strengths. Moreover, Boeing is correct that the self-protection system that would be aboard its KC-767, the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) system, is the best the industry has to offer. We know this because LAIRCM is a Northrop Grumman product that will also be aboard the KC-45.

MYTH: Boeing claims better aerial refueling capability.

FACT: While Boeing's refueling capability did meet or exceed Air Force baseline requirements, the same is true for Northrop Grumman. In fact, the KC-45 was found to be superior to Boeing's offering.

More important, however, is the fact that Northrop Grumman has built and passed fuel through its boom refueling system. Boeing's exists only on paper. It has not been built. It has not been tested. It has not passed fuel. [Ouch-Ouch-Ouch!]

MYTH: Boeing claims better fuel offload capability.

FACT: Given that the Air Force determined that the Northrop Grumman KC-45 is six percent more fuel efficient and carries 20 percent more fuel than Boeing's proposed tanker, this is a completely misleading claim. Boeing calls the extra fuel the KC-45 can deliver "waste," suggesting that Boeing's wisdom is greater than the wisdom of the Air Force in determining what our men and women in uniform need. [This reinforces my first thoughts when Boeing made their claim in this area: It comes down to ‘efficiency’. Yes, the KC-45 burns more fuel than the KC-767 : BUT it does it while delivering proportionally more payload per mile and/or mission than the KC-767.]

MYTH: Boeing claims better airlift capability.

FACT: The KC-767 is, in fact, 69 percent more capable than the soon to be replaced KC-135. What Boeing fails to state is that the Northrop Grumman KC-45, America's New Tanker, is rated 81 percent more capable by the Air Force.

The fact is that Northrop Grumman was selected to provide America's New Tanker by offering a superior product. In its ad, Boeing includes a quote from Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne but Boeing fails to include his most important quote. In referencing the Boeing protest before the GAO, Secretary Wynne predicted that the GAO review "will conclude with the fact that the Air Force, in this case, did it right."

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