Saturday, September 20, 2008

TWB On Hiatus

Dear Tanker War Blog readers:

Due to a number of events including the delay of the tanker rebid process until next year, the strike at Boeing, Hill staff members focus now turning to the financial crisis, and other members still out campaigning for state and national candidates, our blog is on extended hiatus.

We hope to have our core team back together mid to late November, but we will be on hiatus until then.

We will still be monitoring the e-mail occasionally so please continue to send us tanker related information.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

KC-30 Supporters Hit New Low

Fresh from swift boating General Handy, KC-30 supporters hit a new low this week by forming a front group called Alabamians to Build American Tankers (ABAT). They are running a smear campaign with radio ads and have set up their own website at

Here is the text of the ads:
Ad #1 - Alabamian Confronts Boeing
MAN: Boeing deserves the Air Force Refueling Tanker project because it's an American company employing American workers.
ANNCR: And Alabama where a better tanker would be built isn't in America?
MAN: You know what I mean, no sense creating new jobs in Alabama when we can do the work up in Washington State.
ANNCR: So 2500 new jobs in Alabama wouldn't help our national economy?
MAN: You can't build planes in Alabama.
ANNCR: Your company trusts Alabama workers to build high tech weapons, rockets and space vehicles.
MAN: But our Boeing planes are ready now.
ANNCR: Ready now? You mean the ones you promised Italy four years ago? Are those ready yet?
MAN: Hey, we're Boeing.
ANNCR: And the Alabama plane is newer, with better technology.
MAN: Hey, we're Boeing.
ANNCR: And the Alabama plane can carry more fuel, more passengers and more supplies.
MAN: Hey, we're Boeing.
ANNCR: Is that all you can say?
MAN: What else can I say? Clearly Alabama has a better tanker.
ANNCR: Paid for by Alabamians to Build American Tankers

Ad #2 - Boeing Can't Win
EFCT: Sound of jet engine whining along coming in several times during the ad
ANNCR: It seems like every time we hear about Boeing and military contracts we hear about cheating. The reason we are still trying to replace our aging refueling tankers is because Boeing executives were involved in a scandal of bribery and cheating in the last bid. Our Air Force is working hard to protect our country but it appears that Boeing's corporate policy is "if Boeing can't win no one can"...and that means our troops lose.
EFCT: Engine sputtering
ANNCR: May day may day
ANNCR: Paid for by Alabamians to Build American Tankers

Ad #3 - Alabama Can be Trusted
ANNCR: Boeing says America's in danger if Alabamians build refueling tankers for our troops. Boeing claims military technology will wind up overseas. Boeing's one to talk. Last February their engineer was arrested for sending trade secrets to Communist China. And, in June, the FBI caught a Boeing scientist with top secret defense information on his personal laptop. No telling where those secrets were going.
ANNCR: At lease we can keep a secret in Alabama. Paid for by Alabamians to Build American Tankers.
Just who is ABAT and who is funding them?

We would guess the members are a select group of people who either have been brainwashed by the local papers and pandering politicians or those who would benefit from an Airbus facility in Mobile. This seems to be the case as a news story on ABAT lists Mobile locals Bryan Lee, attorney/lobbyist Palmer Hamilton, real estate developer Paul Wesch, and accountant Mike Thompson as members.

We will not venture a public guess on who is funding them, but we probably all know who that is already.

We do know for sure that a PR firm that is doing work for ABAT is Strategy Public Relations in Mobile Alabama. And, a Ms. Krista Burroughs appears to be running at least the website efforts of this shameful campaign.

On Strategy's website it states Krista has:
"over 17 years experience in public relations, Krista is responsible for supervising our production quality and makes sure client services are delivered on schedule and on budget. In addition, she possesses strong and diversified managerial and administrative skills, over seeing day-to-day agency operations. Krista is also proficient in desktop and graphic design, having developed a number of various collateral and time-sensitive pieces. She is a certified webmaster, specializing in the industrial and entertainment field, and serves on the board of directors for the Mobile International Festival."
Well, she can now add outrageous propaganda director, EADS/Airbus apologist, and corporate attack ad specialist to that resume.

If you would like to comment either for or against her work please feel free to e-mail her at, call (251) 432-9200, or even fax (251) 432-9209.

The two other members of the firm can be reached at and You can track down the actual ABAT members and contact them on your own if you wish, but remember the old Southern saying about wrestling with a pig. You both end up dirty, but only your opponent enjoys it.

Boeing issued this response to the ABAT ads:
We have no idea who this group is or how it is funded. Boeing is the largest aerospace employer in Alabama. These ads are an affront to our more than 3,000 hard-working, highly-talented employees and their families in the state. They are also clearly a sign of desperation in support of our competitor. The ads do a disservice to our customer, the men and women who serve our country, more than 160,000 Boeing employees, and to Northrop-Grumman/EADS.

The GAO ruled that the recent tanker competition was seriously flawed and that the award to Northrop-Grumman/EADS should be recompeted. Our focus will remain on the new competition and getting the best technology to the warfighter and the best value to the U.S. taxpayer.
It is good to see Boeing taking the high road, but very disheartening to see some KC-30 supporters creating new ways to sink even lower.

(If anyone needs to know who really has the better tanker they can visit us at Tanker War Blog anytime.)

HAC-D Mark-up Analysis

There has been some reporting of the HAC-D bill mark-up tanker language mainly focused on the subcommittee's press release and the statement that it directs industrial base concerns be included in the evaluation.

Chairman Murtha's statement that the subcommittee "directs the DoD to comply with the GAO findings concerning the tanker award protest" is only now being highlighted. It should, as this limitation is probably the more important of the two provisions.

Among the bills provisions, that have already been reported, is limitation language that requires:
No consideration will be provided for exceeding key performance parameter objectives.

That DoD will more accurately determine most probable life-cycle costs over a 40- year life cycle.

The the winner of the competition be able to refuel all current Air Force fixed-wing tanker-compatible receiver aircraft.
Undersecretary Young has previously stated he will give this extra credit; we'll see what happens next.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wynne: Blinded by Tanker Rage?

Just when we start to think former Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne might have something important to say he comes up spouting gibberish.

Take his latest interview with Air Force Magazine's Daily Report. In it he once again shows how, at the highest levels of the service, there is an alternate tanker reality.

Wynne thinks the service should be meaner to losers of procurement competitions:
Excessively kind language, he said, leads the losers to think they only lost by a hair. In the KC-X tanker competition, “We should have been harsher on the loser,” Wynne said during an interview July 28. However, the service refrained from frank comments. Instead of writing a " 'We don’t want you memo' " to Boeing after it lost to Northrop Grumman, the service crafted a " 'We like you, but you didn’t win' memo," Wynne said. “I just don’t think the write-up was harsh enough.” Boeing was apparently emboldened by the perceived narrow miss to launch its protest, which has put the coveted tanker contract back up for grabs.
From where we stand Boeing was emboldened because they could tell Air Force procurement personnel did not follow the RFP, were duplicitous in their discussions during the competition, and some even sold their integrity to spin public opinion against a Boeing protest. Also, the GAO decision revealed the competition was close; so we wonder how harsh Wynne could have made his comments.

They say hindsight is 20/20, but in Wynne's case it seems to be blind to reality.

[Note: After 30 July the article link will be broken. You must visit the Daily Report archives and pull up the July 30th edition to retrieve it.]

HAC-D Mark-up Today

Today at 11:00AM ET the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense will mark-up its FY 2009 Defense Appropriations bill.

If you remember our post in April, the FY09 budget has the Air Force request of $831.759 M for the "Next Generation Aerial Refueling Aircraft", which is a new budget item. (Source: pg 34, line #83 of FY09 RTD&E Programs Budget) There is also available in FY09 $239.8 M from the "Tanker Replacement Transfer Fund," which are funds remaining from FY05 and FY08 appropriations that went unspent.

Since the decision to recompete the contract, SecDef Gates had requested all FY2009 tanker funds be move to the Tanker Replacement Transfer Fund.

We will not opine as to what the Subcommittee will do in mark-up other to say that there should be active discussion on the amount tanker funding the Air Force needs given that the procurement has been delayed. Also, there may be some limitations placed on the tanker funding.

A limitation places a restriction on the expenditure of funds provided in an appropriations bill, either by setting a spending ceiling, or by prohibiting the use of funds for a specified purpose(s). Congress is not required to provide funds for every agency or purpose authorized by law. It may provide funds for some activities or projects under an agency, but not others. Precedents require that the language be phrased in the negative, for example, that none of the funds provided in this paragraph (typically an account) shall be used for a specified activity.(Source: Walter Kravitz, Congressional Quarterly’s American Congressional Dictionary: Third Edition, pp. 139-140)

Limitations included in the text of the legislation are legally binding; limitations provided only in the committee reports and managers’ statements are not legally binding, but are routinely followed.

At this point in the Tanker War nothing is routine, and language short of law will could very well be ignored by DoD. So, we expect the any tanker limitations to be in the legislation not just be report language.

Any cuts to or limitations placed on the tanker funding will be the first legislative action on the tanker issue since the GAO issued its decision. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense is not scheduled to mark-up their bill until September.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wynne Backs Tanker Split-buy

In an interview with Air Force Magazine former Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne states his case for awarding contracts for both the KC-767 and KC-30. He believes this may be the only way to resolve the legal impasse surrounding the tanker competition.

A spilt-buy has in the past been regarded impractical due to the increased cost of low rate production of 7.5 aircraft per year:
But Wynne, now out of office, said July 28 there is another way to approach the split buy: have each contractor build at the same annual rate that they would have in the winner-take-all scenario—upwards of 15. Keeping two suppliers would strengthen the industrial base, replace the Eisenhower-era KC-135 tankers “at a faster rate” and maintain competition “well into the future,” not a bad consideration since the Air Force needs to buy about 500 new tankers overall to replace its KC-135s, he said.

As for the higher costs of supporting two tankers lines, Wynne said, when asked, he would support applying some of the $5 billion in added procurement funds that the Air Force will reportedly receive in Fiscal 2010 to cover them.
We at Tanker War Blog think this might be a case of counting your tankers before they are hatched. There are no guarantees on increased funding in 2010. In fact, either candidate for President will probably cut DoD funding when they get into office. Also, if extra funding was available, are extra tankers more important than F-22, C-17, JSF, several space programs, or more ISR?

Wynne may have a point that Under Secretary John Young's solution of an expedited recompete may not get past the draft RFP stage based on the experience with the CSAR procurement:
Wynne said he hopes that the GAO will accept Young’s tack in trying to resolve the KC-X protest. “I worry because it is a very similar tactic to what I tried on the [combat search and rescue replacement vehicle program]—trying to simply address the issues that the GAO has brought forward,” he said.

The GAO did not accept Wynne’s approach to resolving the industry protests on CSAR-X and instead recommended that the Air Force reopen that competition more broadly, which USAF subsequently did.
DoD should issue the new draft tanker RFP this week or next. We will see if Mr. Young can make all sides happy enough to allow for the final RFP to be issued in mid-August without a protest.

We here at Tanker War Blog believe this will an extremely tough order to fill, but Mr. Young has the best chance of anyone in DoD to succeed. If he can't do it, no one can.

Monday, July 28, 2008

More Air Force Resignations

AP is reporting that the Special Assistant for Acquisition Governance and Transparency to the Secretary of the Air Force Kenneth E. Miller has resigned.

Mr. Miller is no stranger to Tanker War Blog and it is report that he is under investigation for leaking procurement information prior to its approved release.

In May we did a post we on him and his role in the tanker war. We had heard he may be retiring this summer, but are still surprised it has taken this long to show him the door.

Also, reported earlier today was the resignation of William C. "Bill" Anderson the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics.

Mr. Andrerson's office had given some unsatisfactory answers to members of Congress about KC-30 Milcon costs, but this was a minor issue. We do not know of any big tanker related issues connected to his resignation.

At this point, most people here in DC are taking him for his word that the resignation is due to lack of leadership backing "necessary to lean forward to aggressively support" the service's Airmen. Given that Mr. Anderson clashed with a KC-30 supporter on joint-basing it rings very true.