Friday, June 20, 2008

Air Force Woes

I've said it before that the Air Force makes my life difficult, but I am now feeling a little sorry for them. Sec Def did the right thing decapitating them, but the cancer goes much deeper and will need even more painful surgery. You can't go skipping merrily along when every thing you touch turns to crap.

Take the latest on the tanker deal, the fact that instead of taking what they asked for in the request for bid, they went off and took the biggest shiny object they could find. This lusting cost them the a proven capable airplane at an overall lower cost, but instead the Air Force ends up with another black eye. I am not saying that there isn't merit in the EADS proposal, but it wasn't what the Air Force initially requested so doesn't quite fit the requirements. Keeping ones eye on the ball and not chasing shiny things is what the Air Force needed in this revised tanker deal.

As everyone knows the first tanker deal went down in flames with people headed off to jail, so you would think that the AF would be extra careful this time around. The started out well with talk of openness and requirements, but fell on their swords in the end as pointed out by the GAO. The fact that Boeing's plane fit the requirements to a tee and at lower cost, but lost out to the AF pursuit of bigger and shinier. If the deal had gone through, we would be looking at cost overruns and delays most likely because EADS has never built a working tanker and couldn't prove that it would refuel all the necessary aircraft. On the surface this would be an obvious deal breaker, but the fact that their plane was bigger than required clinched the deal for EADS.

The new solution being floated is to share the contract, much like Newport News and Electric Boat for submarines. This could prove interesting because what happens when one of them doesn't pull their weight or has serious cost overruns. NNSY demonstrated that they didn't get the big picture when it came to building Virginia class subs (+20% cost over EB) and lost oversight to EB for the ships NNSY is building. Boeing is ready to go and can start producing now, while it still remains to be seen what EADS is capable of doing. I wonder what happens when EADS can't even get the job done even with sharing. AF won't look any smarter again.

If you think I'm losing it, tell me!

No comments:

Post a Comment