Monday, July 14, 2008

Fired Air Force Sec. Makes Wild Accusations

In today's print edition of Defense News (subscription required), fired Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne makes several accusations that show just how in denial Air Force officials are on the GAO's findings. When questioned about the GAO decision, and the fact that it appears that there were "Acquisition 101" type errors, Wynne had this to say:
"The Air Force overcomplicated it, probably based on the CSAR-X outcome. The CSAR-X outcome was a conditioning exercise. As a result, they really wanted both competitors to be almost equal."
Whether Wynne knows it or not, this statement is pretty damning. The competitor's products were not equal. The KC-30 team proposed an aircraft that was bigger than required, and only through the tweaking of grading criteria and weighting was the Air Force able to make them equal. As we have mentioned, time and time again, we believe that Air Force acquisition's goal became having a competition and not getting the best tanker for the mission.

The second part of Wynn's answer, which as previously reported, veers from damning to bizarre and bitter:
"Here's one of those cases where Boeing had probably assessed their prospects were dimming. I would say they systematically began to build a case, and I'm not sure they shared everything they could have shared with the Air Force along the way. They were essentially building a Pearl Harbor file" that they could use later."
We would like to inform the former secretary that we have never found anyone in Boeing who thought "their prospects were dimming". In fact, every Boeing supporter or person from Boeing we have come in contact with was truly shocked when it was announced that the Air Force had selected the KC-30. We would add that they had every right to be shocked because, as we now know, the competition was so riddled with errors that DoD has been forced to take the program away for the Air Force.

In the same interview and article, Wynne asserts that Boeing was unwilling to submit commercial rates on their support organizations and that he was surprised that the GAO sided with Boeing on this point:
"I was surprised the GAO did not see that for what it was," he said, "which is: bid high for the stuff that you're going to contract for and bid low on the stuff that you're not going to contract for." Pressed to say whether Boeing's alleged move was dishonest, Wynne said, "Anything that is used to acquire, that is legitimate in the eyes of the customer or the evaluator is legitimate. ... I would say that it depends on how you characterize it. It was a good business idea that seems to have sustained the protest. No different than calling a steal in baseball when the pitcher doesn't realize it."
Many of us in Washington initially gave Wynne a pass on his failures on the tanker and other procurement programs. But, given his lack of understanding of the GAO decision and his wild accusations it is impossible to do so anymore.

One of the main reasons Wynne was promoted to Air Force Secretary was to clean up the procurement mess of the tanker lease deal. In this he failed just as miserably as he did in ensuring his service accounted for nuclear weapons.

The record will show that Wynne's tenure was a complete loss. (pun intended)

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is the mission?

That's the key question here. Is the mission to ferry a squadron of fighters across the pond? KC-10s do that well, so would the KC-30. Is the mission to stay on station close to the FEBA where individual fighters that come out of the battle area all shot up or depleted of fuel from all the time they spent in burner can get someone to plug them so they get the gas they need to go home, it would be better to have something more survivable...more forward-deployable.

How survivable is the KC-30 in that environment? Tough to tell. We do know that Airbus doesn't exactly build a lot of extra maneuvering capacity into their commercial aircraft.

Seven years ago an Airbus 300 CAME APART IN FLIGHT ON TAKEOFF killing 265 people (260 on board and five on the ground) because the aircrew pushed the rudder too far on takeoff, believing it was safe to do so within the maneuvering envelope of the aircraft.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Airlines_Flight_587

Cause of the crash was THE RUDDER SNAPPING OFF due to the aircrew pushing on it "too hard' in an effort to keep the aircraft upright in turbulence.

So what's the mission? If a large, poorly maneuverable, relatively fragile aircraft will do it, why not an A330? Why not an A380?

But if the mission is to get close to the action, land on the often marginally adequate airstrips that you are forced to use in wartime, do a little yanking and banking to do the job, a super jumbo might not be your best option.

Anonymous said...

Coming from someone that just got fired is like asking darleen and michael sears there input. Next to go hopefully Mr Young and all his buddies with eads.

Anonymous said...

"Here's one of those cases where Boeing had probably assessed their prospects were dimming. I would say they systematically began to build a case, and I'm not sure they shared everything they could have shared with the Air Force along the way. They were essentially building a "Pearl Harbor file" that they could use later."

Boeing was shocked! NO the pundants, employees and union might have been shocked (Boeing leadership knew) and to say they had no Pearl Harbor file is insane, the Boeing management culture http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_12/b3925039_mz011.htm
required it. They were in trouble over past performance, mixing commercial with military and avoided the real issue - Boeing leadership and customer problems.

"In the same interview and article, Wynne asserts that Boeing was unwilling to submit commercial rates on their support organizations and that he was surprised that the GAO sided with Boeing on this point:"

Not only does Boeing know they knew they had to finally face facts, look for Boeing tanker re-organization changes you failed to mention because you don't know. GAO never came close to uncovering the real issues - and we tap dance around it - Boeing!

Anonymous said...

To the blogger who wrote:
"...and to say they had no Pearl Harbor file is insane, the Boeing management culture ...
required it."


You may or may not be correct (about Boeing management culture), but both you and Ex-Secretary Wynne have missed the point completely. The GAO Report, starting on page 27, goes into great detail explaining how procurement law prevents a party in Boeing's position from "making objections" before the final contract award decision. Boeing, by law, had no choice except to create a file with the "significant errors" that the Air Force was making.

Caveat: I'm not a lawyer, so I'm doing my best to decipher the GAO report, but this is my understanding.

george hanshaw said...

"Here's one of those cases where Boeing had probably assessed their prospects were dimming. I would say they systematically began to build a case, and I'm not sure they shared everything they could have shared with the Air Force along the way. They were essentially building a "Pearl Harbor file" that they could use later."

Boeing was shocked! NO the pundants, employees and union might have been shocked (Boeing leadership knew) and to say they had no Pearl Harbor file is insane,


You accept theman's comments? What do they even MEAN, a "Pearl Harbor File." I've been in the business since 1976, and I don't know what that means.

But I do know what it means when you "accidently" ship six nuclear weapons from Minot to Barkesdale on a B-52 in gross violation of at least three disarmament treaties. I do know what it means when you leave those weapons unprotected overnight sitting out on the tarmac. It means you have broken a host of regulations and at least two laws. And I know what it means when you "accidentally" ship nuclear detonators from Hill AFB to Raiwan, thinking they are aircraft parts. And I know what it means when even after all this, after the entire Bombardment Wing has been decertified for handling nukes, allegedly trained back to standards, and on your first Operational Readiness Inspection after recertification you get caught with one of your PRP certified Security Cops in the weapons storage area playing video games on his cell phone during the inspection, in lieu of actually guarding the nukes.

It means you get your butt fired, for total incompetence, that's what.

Given that's exactly what happened to this individual, why on earth would you give anything he said credence?

Anonymous said...

I realize that asking for consistency is dangerous, since that is a step along the way to rationality, but I note with more than a little amusement that one of the last things this gentleman did before he got himself fired was to institute a program to reduce fuel consumption by cutting excess fuel carried by USAF tankers and transports to the minimum needed to safely accomplish their mission.

The reference is

http://federaltimes.com/index.php?S=3622842


Here is an excerpt:
“We have stripped a huge amount of weight out of the airplanes by simply tailoring for the mission,” Wynne said in an interview. “We used to just fill it all the way up.”
“Filling up would also cause us to land heavy on our equipment, causing us to damage our aircraft. It needs to be holistically looked at. It could save them 10 percent of their fuel usage. It would be $600 million annually.”


Life may or may not be fair, but it can certainly be ironical...

Anonymous said...

WEAK DOLLAR WOES

EADS continues to have problems trying to cope with having their expenses (mostly) in Euros while selling aircraft in dollars. Their "Power8" restructuring is having severe difficulties:

http://uk.reuters.com/article/rbssIndustryMaterialsUtilitiesNews/idUKL1320666020080713

and the dollar has dropped to $1.60 to the Euro, as opposed to $1.45 when the restructuring plan was first drawn up. So what does that have to do with the tanker issue? Just this; When EADS originally placed their bids, the Euro was about $1.35. It is now about $1.60.

To match the same dollar price they gave when bidding on the KC-30, EADS must now be content with 1.35/1.60 as much revenue, a little over 85% of their original asking price in Euros.

Unless EADS had a really healthy profit margin built in to their original bid, it seems very likely that EADS must now substantially increase their bid, or wind up losing money on this deal.

Anonymous said...

How survivable is the KC-30 in that environment?
The KC-45 airframe is as survivable as the KC-767. The better protection features offered by Boeing were due to software issues.

Seven years ago an Airbus 300 CAME APART IN FLIGHT ON TAKEOFF [...] the aircrew pushed the rudder too far on takeoff, believing it was safe to do so within the maneuvering envelope of the aircraft.

A crew have to know the limits of the aircraft and not to believe.

If a large, poorly maneuverable, relatively fragile aircraft [...]
Both aircrafts are tanker and therefore not capable to outmaneuver AAM or fighter aircrafts.

But if the mission is to get close to the action, land on the often marginally adequate airstrips that you are forced to use in wartime, [...]
And at all these "marginally adequate airstrips" you'll find a large fuel depot?
The KC-45 is able to operate out of more airfields with more fuel than a KC-767. Boeing spin was to compare both aircrafts at MTOW.

Anonymous said...

How survivable is the KC-30 in that environment?
The KC-45 airframe is as survivable as the KC-767. The better protection features offered by Boeing were due to software issues.


I used to fly fighters, fellow. Are you seriously trying to tell me that an A330 has the same radar cross section as a 767? Better go find someone ignorant of the operation of an AN/APG-66 radar. They may be ignorant enough to believe you.

A crew have to know the limits of the aircraft and not to believe. And sometimes in warfare you need to push them to the limit. That's why you want the limits as far out there as possible.

Both aircrafts are tanker and therefore not capable to outmaneuver AAM or fighter aircrafts. No doubt. But the ability to avoid detection is a very real issue. The F-117A Stealthfighter wasn't faster or more maneuverable than any other fighter or AAM either, but its reduced radar cross section relative to its peers served it well. Which aircraft do YOU think would be the easiest to detect and lock up? The A330 or the 767? Similarly, the "software issue" you scoff at makes a huge difference in EMP hardening. God forbid we get in a nuclear war, but if we do would you like for all our tankers to fling themselves out of the sky because their software isn't EMP hardened? You think a fly-by-wire aircraft that is susceptible to EMP can't kick over a rudder as hard as an American Airlines pilot? Think again.

And at all these "marginally adequate airstrips" you'll find a large fuel depot?
The KC-45 is able to operate out of more airfields with more fuel than a KC-767. Boeing spin was to compare both aircrafts at MTOW.

Ofentimes the tanker IS the large fuel depot. They are flown in with fuel and only topped off at the forward strip, so they CAN takeoff at MTOW and be close to the action.

If you understand so little of the mission, how can you credibly judge what aircraft is best for it?

Anonymous said...

RCS of a 767 vs A340! and your point is? They are both flying elephants -opps pardon me "flying gas cans". Who knows better about RCS, RAM, Kill chains than the good ole' B2 makers.

Anonymous said...

Just keep tap dancing around the issue, Boeing leadership knows and started taking steps to fix the real problem Boeing. Spin it any way you want but they realize they have a bad relationship with the customer!

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=aerospacedaily&id=news/PLAY07158.xml&headline=Boeing%20Shifts%20Tanker%20Players

Anonymous said...

RCS of a 767 vs A340! and your point is? They are both flying elephants -opps pardon me "flying gas cans".

There is a rather DISTINCT difference in the RCS between a 767 and an A 330. Depending on the aspect angle, the A330 can be as much as triple the 767.

Who knows better about RCS, RAM, Kill chains than the good ole' B2 makers.


Airbus makes the B2? Since when?

Anonymous said...

WEAK DOLLAR WOES

No kidding.

The European single currency surged to an all-time high above 1.60 dollars on Tuesday on mounting investor fears about the stormy US economic outlook.
In late morning London deals, the euro jumped to 1.6038 dollars, which beat the previous all-time peak of 1.6019 that was set on April 22. It later stood at 1.6026, up from 1.5909 in New York late on Monday.

Against the yen, the dollar fell to 105.01 yen from 106.18.

The dollar tumbled to a historic low point against the euro ahead of Congressional testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on the outlook for the US economy later on Tuesday.
Jul 15 06:16 AM US/Eastern


Anonymous said...

"A crew have to know the limits of the aircraft and not to believe. And sometimes in warfare you need to push them to the limit." That's why you want the limits as far out there as possible.

How many time you can put on alternating full ruder left and full ruder right on your fighter aircraft at cruise speed?

Better go find someone ignorant of the operation of an AN/APG-66 radar.
Northrop Grumman builds the AN/APG-66 and all the ECM units for both tankers are by Northrop Grumman. Radar signatures of both aircrafts are laughable. The real threat is Vympel R-33/37 AAM (range over 100 nm) and Zhuk-MSE (detection performance up to 100 nm vs a 50 sq ft RCS target) combined on a Su-30.

Ofentimes the tanker IS the large fuel depot. They are flown in with fuel and only topped off at the forward strip, so they CAN takeoff at MTOW and be close to the action.

During Operation Desert Storm Air Forces used just 5 tanker bases with ample fuel supply. Due to political reasons during Operation Iraqi Freedom 15 tanker bases had to be used with worse fuel supply. That was an insanity.

For a valuable tanker base you need a pipeline or a harbor nearby.

God forbid we get in a nuclear war, but if we do would you like for all our tankers to fling themselves out of the sky because their software isn't EMP hardened?

Do you want to refuel ICBMs?
KC-767 may has a better EMP hardening but a convential airliner want fall out of the sky due to Lightning-EMP hardening.
You can't harden software, you can only harden hardware.

Anonymous said...

How many time you can put on alternating full ruder left and full ruder right on your fighter aircraft at cruise speed?

In my F-16? As often as I care to. The software program won't let you exceed the structural airframe limits.

And are you telling me that airbus was at CRUISE airspeed at climbout?

For a valuable tanker base you need a pipeline or a harbor nearby.


Trust me. You have to fight wars where the war is. You aren't allowed to choose to fight wars only if there is a convenient harbor or pipeline nearby. Have you ever served in the military? Even a few weeks?