A spilt-buy has in the past been regarded impractical due to the increased cost of low rate production of 7.5 aircraft per year:
But Wynne, now out of office, said July 28 there is another way to approach the split buy: have each contractor build at the same annual rate that they would have in the winner-take-all scenario—upwards of 15. Keeping two suppliers would strengthen the industrial base, replace the Eisenhower-era KC-135 tankers “at a faster rate” and maintain competition “well into the future,” not a bad consideration since the Air Force needs to buy about 500 new tankers overall to replace its KC-135s, he said.We at Tanker War Blog think this might be a case of counting your tankers before they are hatched. There are no guarantees on increased funding in 2010. In fact, either candidate for President will probably cut DoD funding when they get into office. Also, if extra funding was available, are extra tankers more important than F-22, C-17, JSF, several space programs, or more ISR?
As for the higher costs of supporting two tankers lines, Wynne said, when asked, he would support applying some of the $5 billion in added procurement funds that the Air Force will reportedly receive in Fiscal 2010 to cover them.
Wynne may have a point that Under Secretary John Young's solution of an expedited recompete may not get past the draft RFP stage based on the experience with the CSAR procurement:
Wynne said he hopes that the GAO will accept Young’s tack in trying to resolve the KC-X protest. “I worry because it is a very similar tactic to what I tried on the [combat search and rescue replacement vehicle program]—trying to simply address the issues that the GAO has brought forward,” he said.DoD should issue the new draft tanker RFP this week or next. We will see if Mr. Young can make all sides happy enough to allow for the final RFP to be issued in mid-August without a protest.
The GAO did not accept Wynne’s approach to resolving the industry protests on CSAR-X and instead recommended that the Air Force reopen that competition more broadly, which USAF subsequently did.
We here at Tanker War Blog believe this will an extremely tough order to fill, but Mr. Young has the best chance of anyone in DoD to succeed. If he can't do it, no one can.