Like most of us General Handy was "a bit surprised" by the decision to buy the KC-30 and even more shocked by the "unusually harsh language used by the Government Accountability Office" in its recommendation that the contract be rebid. He says that the harsh GAO language:
...compels me to do something I've never done before: to speak out publicly. I am not employed by either Boeing or Northrop-Grumman. But the service I've devoted most of my life to appears to need a bit of help.General Handy lays out what he believes are the three major requirements for the KC-X tanker:
Somewhere in the acquisition process, it is obvious to me that someone lost sight of the requirement. Based on what the GAO decided, it's up to people such as myself to remind everyone of the warfighter requirement for a modern air refueling tanker aircraft.
1) The ability to deploy and bed down in sufficient numbers in order to accomplish all assigned tasks.
2) The tanker must be survivable and provide the crew with superior situational awareness.
3) The ability to integrate in the current defense transportation system. That means 463L compatible pallets; floor loaded on a freighter capable floor all compatible with the current modern airlift fleet.
General Handy concludes that:
Now, if you look at these rather simple requirements and look at the previous offerings from industry, you might agree with me that the KC-767 more closely meets these needs than the competition. If that's what the warfighters need, that's what they should get.We could not agree more with General Handy's assessment that Air Force procurement lost sight of the requirement. In our view, the pressure to have a competition was so great that the Air Force was forced to make changes to the RFP to accommodate an larger aircraft that they did not want. These changes, both pre and post final RFP, tilted the metrics of the competition toward a larger tanker.
It almost seems as though the goal of the SSA became having a competition, and not getting the best tanker for the mission. (As we have previously pointed out, the pressure that led to this was constant and irresistible.)
Competition is a good thing. But, when it becomes the ends, and not the means, thereby causing one to lose sight of the requirement; well, the whole procurement process is worthless.