Friday, June 6, 2008

Letter to Last Woman Standing

With members of the Air Force leadership being forced out the door yesterday, Congressman Norm Dicks and Congressman Todd Tiahrt wrote a letter to one of the purge's survivors, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Sue Payton.

The letter specifically questions how the Air Force determined that the relative risks of the two proposals are comparable in terms of cost, schedule and technical performance.

The letter states:

On the one hand, you have the EADS team that proposed to build the first several planes in a number of different combinations of production facilities (most of which are either overseas or do not exist today). This approach entails building new facilities, hiring and training a new workforce, transferring design and production information among multiple nations, languages and cultures, and establishing and certifying production processes multiple times.

In contrast, the Boeing bid proposes to make a one-time investment of time and effort on the front end of the program to adapt an existing production line and develop production processes that maximize the in-line militarization modifications on an ITAR-compliant line that will be proven and certified only once. This is consistent with the underlying approach used by the Rand Corporation in the KC-X Tanker Analysis of Alternatives; an approach that they used because it "eliminates the rework of sequential green aircraft production and tanker modification at two locations."
The letter went on to mention Boeing's approach to the KC-X proposal is fundamentally the same as the one that they are successfully using today for the Navy’s P-8A Poseidon aircraft:

This program, awarded to Boeing in 2004, is performing on its original program plan to begin delivering aircraft next year....Just a couple of weeks ago, VADM David Venlet (Commander of Naval Aviation Systems Command) stated "Normally with non-commercial-built airplanes, it takes us longer to build them and we have more time, but with this one, we're almost running behind Boeing to catch up and to keep up with that airframe, and we're very pleased with that concept."

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

It isn't just the risk analysis. Look, ALL of the assessment criteria were supposed to be spelled out in the original Request for Proposal.

Those criteria ought to have read like the answer key for an academic test...that is, given the RFP anyone ought to have been able to take a look at the proposals and scored them, and come out very closely to the same answer.

What appears to have happened is that the criteria were CHANGED in the middle of the procedure, without all parties being informed.

Had the original proposal actually stated that the Air Force wanted as much offload capability, cargo capability, and passenger capability as possible, EADS no doubt would have hawked an A380 variant while Boeing pushed a 747-800 variant. But for good tactical reasons, this was a SMALL to MEDIUM tanker replacement, not a KC-10 replacement. Based upon what appears to have been the EVENTUAL criteria actually used to select the EADS tanker, Boeing would have almost certainly proposed a 777 variant, had they been advised what the final selection criteria would be. In the meantime, the warfighters continue to fly 1950s-era KC-135s because the procurement people can't get their S##t together.....

davidj said...

It is possible IMHO that Boeing in fact did understand the RFP changes meant the USAF wanted a bigger aircraft, that they did consider responding with a 777 based version but realized their costs would not be competitive.