By Azhar Masood
The U.S. Air Force found Northrop Grumman’s bid to build the next generation of aerial refueling tankers superior to Boeing’s in four of the five most important selection criteria. Despite this fact, the losing bidder wants the Government Accountability Office to overturn the Air Force decision to award the contract to Northrop Grumman.
Coming regularly over the next few weeks, ‘Why We Won’ will provide detailed examples of why Northrop Grumman was selected, drawing on facts listed in a redacted version of a protected Air Force selection document. We begin with Mission Capability, which includes the crucial function of aerial refueling.
The Air Force found the Northrop Grumman KC-45 provides ‘Better fuel offloads at all distances from bases,’ ‘Better air refueling efficiency,’ ‘Better offload rate and receive rate,’ and has ‘A greater boom envelope vs. Boeing.’ This means the Northrop Grumman plane can provide more fuel at greater range, is more fuel efficient when executing the tanker mission, can perform many refueling operations faster, and can connect to receivers over a greater volume of airspace behind the tanker than Boeing’s aircraft.
In a written explanation of the Air Force thinking on this subject, Sue Payton, the Air Force’s chief acquisition officer, said the Air Force determined that Northrop Grumman provided ‘Significant refueling advantages.Payton added that Northrop Grumman’s aircraft’s ‘Refueling capability was compelling to my decision.’Northrop Grumman’s offer was a superior solution to the air refueling requirement, which is a key performance parameter,’ Payton wrote.
Despite this, Boeing’s defenders in Congress are now demanding that the fair and transparent bidding process that led to the Northrop Grumman selection be overturned to ensure that Boeing is given the contract, in spite of the clear inferiority of the plane it offered to our men and women in uniform.
In fact, Boeing disagrees with the Air Force formula for air refueling efficiency that shows the winning Northrop Grumman tanker as six percent more efficient in relation to fuel delivered versus fuel consumed, so they invented their own. As the Wall Street Journal concluded in a recent editorial, ‘There’s a word for that, but it’s not patriotism