Is the Fix in for Boeing on the Tanker Competition?

Quin Hillyer seems to think so, and so writes in the American Spectator.

The Pentagon is playing dirty pool on behalf of the already-dirtiest pool players from Boeing, with regard to the huge (179-plane, about $40 billion) air refueling tanker contract that Northrop Grumman Corp. and EADS won fair and square last year before it was stolen away from them.

As a reminder: The swiping occurred after Boeing launched an unprecedented and underhanded political-hardball campaign after Northrop won the contract with a bigger, more versatile, more efficient plane. Boeing’s bid also was some $3 billion more expensive (or $42 million more expensive per plane) than Northrop’s for just the first 64 planes. And Northrop’s offering would support, it believably claims, some 48,000 American jobs at 230 supplier companies in 49 states, compared to 44,000 new jobs that Boeing claimed it would create. The Northrop plane also could start coming off the production lines sooner than Boeing’s, by all accounts.

Yet after Boeing strong-armed politicians and the Pentagon, the Seattle- and Chicago-based company filed a formal protest, alleging more than 100 irregularities in what already had been the most open, public, analyzed contract award in Pentagon history. (The award actually itself was a re-do; at first the Air Force was to lease planes from Boeing, but Sen. John McCain led an investigation which found such serious shenanigans that several Boeing executives and Air Force personnel were convicted in a sort of kickback scheme.

The rebid was a pure partisan decision that favored Democrat Washington state over Republican Alabama and Mississippi, still recovering from Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina. And with the newly issued rules preventing the Northrop bid from being evaluated for its greater capability while giving Northrop’s pricing data to Boeing without reciprocating to Northrop with Boeing’s pricing data, it is clear that the bid is as dirty and unfair as the Air Force can make it. Will people go to jail again over Boeing’s shenanigans? Maybe, maybe not. Democrats seem to get away scot free with these things. Should they? I’m leaning to yes.

And yes, I still work for Northrop Grumman, though not for the tanker effort. I work in the same region that would supply the workers for this project, so no doubt some of my neighbors would work there. I’m blogging this on my own time. And yes, I’m bitter. I see another decision that was made on the basis of facts overturned because of dirty Democrat party politics. And it makes me sick for my country.

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