Saturday, April 26, 2008

KC-30 Infrastructure Costs Questioned

On Thursday, Senator Patty Murray questioned DoD Comptroller Tina W. Jones and Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment Wayne Arny about the additional military construction costs associated with Airbus tankers.

Senator Murray asked why it seems as though retrofit costs to hangars, ramps, and taxiway were not a factor in the decision to the award decision even though the Air Force claims it accounted for all associated life cycle costs.

Both officials, said that they were not part of the decision making process and could not comment on the additional costs.

Upon hearing this Senator Murray voiced her frustration at the lack of cost oversight and that that budget officials for such a huge contract were not part of the Air Force's decision making process.

"These are the people who are responsible for devising the Department of Defense's budget and yet the Air Force never consulted them on all the costs associated with awarding this contract to Airbus," said Senator Murray. "That's like handing your teenager a credit card to go on a car shopping spree...and as taxpayers we certainly shouldn't allow the military to run like that."

Boeing has charged in its protest that the Air Force did not take into account rebuilding air bases for the heavier and bigger Airbus tanker when estimating life cycle costs. And that:

1)The Airbus A330 would require $2 billion more in construction costs to upgrade hangars, runways, ramps and other infrastructure at current tanker bases than the KC-767.
2)The Airbus A330 requires significant investment to be able to operate from the civilian airfields used by Air National Guard and Air Force reserves.

At TWB we have always had the feeling that Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Sue Payton would end up regretting her, “We’ve got it nailed,” comment on the tanker contract. At least when it comes to construction cost, her statment is looking more like bravado than fact. The good news for everyone though is that in the pantheon of misguided overstatements nothing said in the tanker debate can never top George Tenent's WMD "slam dunk".

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