Kansas Lawmakers Seek More Time for Tanker Bid

By: AP
By: AP

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Kansas lawmakers are calling on the Pentagon
to extend the deadline for bids on the $35 billion Air Force refueling tanker contract.

Republican Sens. Pat Robert and Sam Brownback say Boeing Co. needs four extra months to respond to the new request for a larger

The Air Force initially awarded the contract to a team of Northrop Grumman and Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. But after Boeing protested, congressional investigators found mistakes in how the award was made.

The Pentagon has since reopened the competition, aiming to choose a winner by the end of the year.

Roberts, Brownback and GOP Rep. Todd Tiahrt, also of Kansas, say the new guidelines unfairly favor Northrop's larger plane.

They warn of ``fierce bipartisan resistance'' in Congress if the
new process seems unfair.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Full statement from Brownback, Roberts and Tiahrt:
"Today we held further discussions with Pentagon officials about the timeline for the Air Force KC-X tanker replacement bid. It is abundantly clear there have been significant changes made in the bidding evaluation that favor a French aircraft. If the Department of Defense wants a fair competitive bid process to proceed, it needs to allow more time for Boeing to respond to the new request for a larger aircraft.

"The RFP evaluation changes will have a ripple effect throughout the proposal submitted by Boeing. The Pentagon should allow an additional four months for the competitors to properly respond to the changes.

"These new replacement tankers will be in use for 40 years, and it is dramatically unfair to rig the competition by being unwilling to allow an additional four months for a response to the dynamic changes in the RFP.

"We have witnessed the Air Force's lavish willingness to accommodate the team proposing a French aircraft. And it is our belief Congress will insist on a fair process that allows the Boeing team adequate time to respond to the shift in the DoD's evaluation criteria.

"Failure to proceed with a fair competition will be met with fierce bipartisan resistance in Congress.

"In a bi-partisan letter sent last week, we asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to allow more time for the revised RFP to be understood by the bidders. We want this tanker bid to move forward quickly, but we do not want a hasty process that extinguishes a fair competition.

"Both the war fighter and the tax payer are best served by a fair competition that allows both bidders time to respond. We are committed to this goal and expect the Pentagon to do no less."

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