In his recent report on the tanker issue Mr. Hamilton writes:
Boeing should pursue the protest of the award by the US Air Force of the KC-45A tanker to Northrop Grumman as aggressively as possible. Furthermore, Congressional hearings should also be pursued aggressively.
This is a complete about face of our previous positions. Here’s why: Once Boeing filed the protest, a move we did not support, and Boeing explained its reasoning, it’s clear that there is a real disconnect between what the public has been hearing from the Air Force, Northrop, aerospace analyst Loren Thompson, whose close ties to the Air Force and his information published became the focus of some criticism, and what Boeing understands from its debrief. [Note: see our previous post on this issue.]
Northrop, the Air Force and Thompson said the win by Northrop for its KC-30 wasn’t even close. Boeing says not only was the win not close, Boeing’s KC-767 actually outscored the KC-30 in several areas. Furthermore, Boeing claims the process was changed, sometimes without the Air Force telling it, during the evaluation. These changes, Boeing said, were designed to keep Northrop’s KC-30 in the competition. With the huge disconnect and the Boeing assertions, there is only one way to resolve the issue and to provide affirmation, modification or rejection of the process and decision, and that’s to aggressively pursue the protest.
Anything less will leave a cloud of doubt hanging over the Air Force’s decision and continue to subject the award to Congressional, labor and public criticisms. Even if the Government Accountability Office, with which Boeing filed the protest, affirms the award, it’s unlikely to completely quell the criticism because of the political ramifications that have enveloped this process from the start of the competition.
Mr. Hamilton's support for Boeing's protest and Congressional inquiry into the matter are welcomed by those of us here at Tanker War Blog.