Monday, July 28, 2008

Tanker News 28 July

The following tanker related items caught our eye:

Wash Post: Pentagon Auditors Pressured To Favor Contractors, GAO Says
Key passage:
The Defense Contract Audit Agency, which oversees contractors for the Defense Department, "improperly influenced the audit scope, conclusions and opinions" of reviews of contractor performance, the GAO said, creating a "serious independence issue."

The report does not name the projects or the contractors involved, but staff members on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee who were briefed on the findings cited seven contractors, some of whom are among the biggest in the defense industry: Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Fluor, Parker Hannifin, Sparta, SRS Technologies and a subsidiary of L3 Communications.
It is hard for us to understand how KC-30 supporters, both here and abroad, could bash the GAO and label their tanker contract protest decision as biased. Seems like the GAO is not afraid to call either side, or both, out if they think something is wrong.

China.org.cn : 1st Airbus segments arrive in Tianjin
Key passage:
The first aircraft segments for a planned Airbus A320 arrived in the new single-aisle assembly line in Tianjin on Friday from the Airbus production sites in Europe, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The segments include the forward and rear fuselage section, a pair of wings, the horizontal and vertical tailplane and engine pylons.

The assembly process of the first aircraft, which is for Sichuan Airlines, will start in August 2008. Delivery of the aircraft is scheduled for the first half of 2009. It hopes to begin producing four A320 planes a month by 2011.

Heck, why don't we just cut out the Mobile middleman and get Chinese assembled Airbus planes for the new tanker. At least then we can stop having to pretend an Airbus A330 can somehow magically be turned into an American made tanker.

Czech News: Czech Chief of Staff against purchase of EADS CASA planes
Key passage:
In June, Alenia Aeronautica lodged a complaint with the EC, the Czech anti-monopoly office (UOHS) and the Defence Ministry, challenging the Czech government's decision to buy transport planes for the military from EADS.

Alenia Aeronautica's representatives in the Czech Republic said the planned deal had breached the EU's principles of transparency and no discrimination in placing public orders.
Like the article above, this is not a tanker story per say, but it is good to know we are not the only country having procurement transparency problems when buying EADS aircraft.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

At least then we can stop having to pretend an Airbus A330 can somehow magically be turned into an American made tanker.

Ah, still banging the not-invented-here drum!

It was interesting to note that the "All American" Boeing just admitted to exporting defense jobs by subcontracting A-10 work to South Korea! That shows the hypocricy of one of their, and their supporters, main arguments against the KC-30.

Anonymous said...

and just how much of it did they sub out ? was it the whole airframe

Anonymous said...

Hey Northrop we Taxpayers here would like to know just what You will be Manufacturing on this Tanker, will it be the Airframe, Wings, Boom, Just What will it be. Oh Thats Right Not a Thing. So what will you Really be doing? Besides giving Taxpayers lip service?

george hanshaw said...

The Defense Contract Audit Agency, which oversees contractors for the Defense Department, "improperly influenced the audit scope, conclusions and opinions" of reviews of contractor performance, the GAO said, creating a "serious independence issue."

No, you think?

Those of us who have been in the procurement business in DOD have known this for years. Contractors particularly delight in getting wiley veterans to dealing with young inexperienced contract managers. It's sort of like putting a sixteen year old kid on a used car lot with a few grand of daddy's cash.

In fact, NOBODY HAS FOLLOWED THE LAW in the procurement business for decades now. It has all been good-old-boy violations of the law, with any resulting hard feelings on the losers side made up for with liberal doses of taxpayer dollars on the next contract.

We can either continue to allow this, providing the warfighters with less capability for more taxpayers money, but making it "convenient' for the cozy relationship between procurement and existing contractors, or we can enforce existing law and make the marketplace more efficient by actually playing by the rules. This certainly would be a sea change in DOD procurement practices, but ultimately would be better for both the country and the contractors as it gave them a level playing field and fair compensation for their efforts.

Right now lots of potential contractors don't even make bids on DOD proposals, because the existing system of insider politicking makes it unlikely that you will win the contract just because you have the superior product or the superior price. That's why such thingsa as really respecting the source selection guidelines given in the RFP is so critical.

If we continue to allow 'bait and switch' and other such policies to tilt the playing field in the direction of one contractor or another, there is absolutely no incentive for anyone not already an insider to even try to play in this game.

Anonymous said...

There is a HUGE difference between skins for wings and an ENTIRE AIRFRAME! It amazes me how an entire green aircraft can be viewed as nothing more than a 'part'.

Anonymous said...

Also, Beoing has not once claimed the KC767 was an 'All American' product. However, it's far more 'American' then the KC30 will ever be.

Anonymous said...

Yes, NGC is not crying "Protectism" Boeing is.....

Anonymous said...

"Yes, NGC is not crying "Protectism" Boeing is....."

Boeing is not crying anything! Boeing analyzed the data available and found problems with the process. THAT'S HOW THEY WON THEIR GAO PROTEST!

Anonymous said...

Whine whine whine, Boeing is just as guilty at sending jobs out of the country than anyone else. You'll find Chinese made parts on just about every Boeing aircraft; including the 767 Tanker.

Hypocrisy at its best:

http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2008/07/28/226127/comment-lessons-unheeded.html

"Last year, Boeing outsourced outer-wing panels for the Fairchild A-10 to South Korea. The catch: Boeing had defeated a different Northrop team for the A-10 re-wing contract. If Northrop had won, the same jobs would have been located in St. Augustine, Florida."

george hanshaw said...

Whine whine whine, Boeing is just as guilty at sending jobs out of the country than anyone else.

That isn't the issue. Certainly, it is AN issue, and if Congress doesn't do something about the unions having too much power in this country, we can expect the Aerospace industry to ultimately go the way of GM, Ford, and Chrysler, dying companies whose strong unions have extorted unsustainable salaries and benefits from the companies without any real concern over their ultimate viability.

But as I said, THAT isn't the issue. In fact, the situation in the EU is even worse. They have incredibly strong unions that have so much clout that the governments are forced to buy stock in the EADS to keep it going, to provide launch aid, to suboptimize everything about running the company because of the necessity of providing jobs to the homeys. The ironic (or is it ironical) thing about it is that they do this largely by shorting their own defense establishment. That was shown in the Balkans, where the EU had to watch genocide on their doorstep because they simply didn't have the deployable forces to stop it, at least not until they got the US involved. The UK has a few deployable forces (the legacy of Maggy Thatcher and the embarassment of their unpreparedness for the Falklands war) but France and Germany? Give me a break. They'd have a hard time fighting off a cub scout troop.
Strangely enough, in their case before the World Trade Court, EADS is alleging that all military spending that goes to Boeing constitutes a US 'subsidy' of Boeing, while they are ignoring altogether the 'launch aid' and out and out purchaser of stock (contributing directly to capital) that EADS routinely receives from the EU countries.

What the EU has done, basically, is to decide they are going to spend what it takes from their tax revenues to maintain what they believe to be critical technical skills in the EU, and to them this contract is simply part of that effort.

The truly pathetic thing is the people in Alabama and other places that N-G (EADS US co-conspirator) has convinced they will be "building America's tanker." These people will no more be building the tanker (in terms of the critical technologies) than my grandson actually 'builds' the Bionicals (plastic models) I buy for him. Sure, he puts them together (they snap in place, it doesn't even take glue) and it's done when he is done snapping them together, but he doesn't use the 3D CAD program to design them, doesn't create the molds for the parts, doesn't do the injection molding of the parts, or even put the color in the plastic. That's about the level of technical skill that the EU is willing to export. They will keep the critical technology expertise in the EU. That's not just what I say, it's what the EU countries and Airbus itself says.

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/facts/4_7_6_en.htm

http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2005/08/defence-integration-next-steps.html

http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,468624,00.html

http://www.sbac.co.uk/community/dms/download.asp?txtPageLinkDocPK=4532

Basically, the US is not the one making this us against them, the EU is. All you have to do is read their own governmental literature.

Anonymous said...

and just how much of it did they sub out ? was it the whole airframe

It doesn't matter - the hypocrisy is in the "Boeing is best for American jobs" BS in relation to the tanker.

How much of the 787 is manufactured in the US? Want to guess how much of the 737 replacement will carry "Made in the USA" stickers?

george hanshaw said...

Once again the Europeans are beating the drums for N-G, trying to make this into a xenophobic american protectionist issue, despite the fact that the EU formally acknowledges in many of their documents giving preference to EU companies to 'retain critical aeronautical technologies in Europe' so they can be independent of the United States. Somehow all their 'launch aid' and direct research aid that they acknowledge is for the sole purpose of giving the EU an advantage is OK, but when the US tries to ensure that procurement law is complied with, all at once WE are the xenophobes:
http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2008/07/28/226127/comment-lessons-unheeded.html

It is obvious that N-G and (the few remaining people in) Air Force recruiting are not going to win this one in the court of law. That's why they put up the brave front initially, telling everyone who would listen that the Airbus deal wasn't just a little better than the Boeing deal, it was HUGELY better, all the while stalling the Boeing debrief for 2+ weeks so they could attempt to fix the slant the media perception that this was actually so.

The GAO report has done much to erase that media perception, by showing that - how do I puth this delicately - THE AIR FORCE WAS LYING. The procurement people lied, and the senior leadership, knowing or uknowingly, lied as well. The GAO investigation pretty well established the fact that USAF procurement people couldn't even add, let alone run the 'fairest and most transparent procurement of all time.'

Guys, it's time to realize, IT'S OVER. The rules have fundamentally changed. You are going to have to adhere to procurement LAW. You know, the Law that's actually on the books, not the one you wish Congress had written that would let you do this by the good-old-boy system.

You can stop wasting time and effort going for the PR angle, unless you really do want to get in to a show and tell on just how much the EU community does try to tilt the playing field in their own favor, and I really don't believe you want to go there.

Time to start putting all your effort into coming up with the best proposal possible, at the most competitive price - IN ACCORDANCE WITH US LAW.

Anonymous said...

Boeing has NEVER claimed that the KC-767 had 100% American content, closer to 85% is the actual number compared to 50 to 60% for the EADS/NG product. The difference, other than the obvious 25 to 35%, is that Boeing suppliers are FAR more US friendly than France and Spain. I don't know about you, but I'd rather have a plane that can get spare parts rather then the one in which the Air Force could be held hostage by the whims of the suppliers government.

Anonymous said...

and once agin Lip service What will you be Manufacturing on this Tanker Northrop? and yes it Does matter.

Anonymous said...

IN a related development. If the DOD stalls KC-X long enough, it may become moot:

The Air Force will conduct a pilot program, beginning in fiscal 2012, to explore the option of using commercial “fee-for-service” aerial refueling services, according to testimony submitted to Congress by acting Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Gen. Norton Schwartz, who has been nominated to become chief of staff.

The Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, will release a formal request for proposals from vendors as early as October, according to the testimony, and it will take an additional two years or more to choose participating vendors, allow them to design and execute their solutions and then begin the pilot program.

The pilot will run from fiscal 2012 through 2016.

The purpose of the program, according to a request for information released in February, is “to assess the feasibility and utility of incorporating commercial service provider(s) in Air Force operations long-term.”

The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act directed the Air Force to launch the pilot program.

Anonymous said...

Very nicely put George. And so True!

Anonymous said...

Won a protest! but not a contract. NG will buy an entire air frame for AirBus and still produce 4000 more American jobs than Boeing even in Kansas and Washington plus 47 other states. Boeing outsourced american jobs on the A-10 to Korea.

Anonymous said...

Boeing outsourced american jobs on the A-10 to Korea.

OOOO wow 2 small outer wing panels.. to S Korea. And more outsourced to New York. but the wing is build here. EADS does it Boeing does it but More of the KC-767 is built right here in the USA not France, Uk, Germany, Spain countries who stranglehold our efferts to keep the islomterrorist at bay. You want them holding up parts/planes for a under-rated tanker who cannot perform critical tasks.

And don't for a moment think they will BUILD them in BAMA for a minute, the EU will fight to keep production over there.

just look at the airframers site for where each type airplane gets its parts from and what that sub contractor builds.

Tanker CC