Staff Sgt. Jason Robertson/U.S. Air Force

Northrop Grumman prompts debate

While The American Legion does not advocate specific weapon systems or products, it does believe our armed forces should have the best equipment for the missions they are expected to carry out.

 Should we be disappointed that Northrop Grumman has backed away from bidding on the contract to build the next generation of Air Force tankers? When debate last raged over the issue, many reports endorsed the Northrop Grumman Tanker G as the best mission-capable candidate. Boeing remains as sole bidder on the aircraft construction project.

"We are disappointed by Northrop's decision not to submit a bid for the U.S. Air Force tanker replacement program," said Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynne III on March 8. "In the last tanker replacement (KC-X) competition, Northrop Grumman competed well on both price and non-price factors. We strongly believe that the current competition is structured fairly and that both companies could compete effectively."

Is it better for the U.S. economy if a U.S.-based company trumps foreign firms, whose products represent a more global investment of taxpayers' dollars? What would you decide?


  1. The politics occurred earlier after Northrop Grumman won the 1st bid for the tankers. (Yes, NG won the first contract). Their design clearly was superior in the eyes of the independant scoring committee, based on the mission needs and requirements set by the Air Force. A suit was file, the contract was negated. The spec requirements were rewritten. Northrop Grumman withdrew. Who do you think got what they wanted? The AF? Lynne can't bemoan the sole source contract when his office allowed politics to over ride the needs of the war fighters. If NG felt they stood a chance, they would have stayed in the game, not withdraw. I'm confident that Boeing will build a good tanker that will meet mission needs, but this process did not guarantee that the AF would get the best. It's not THAT simple.
  2. Politics and emotion is really what we gleen in this article. What really happened is that the AF set the requirements that it needed. NG had an aircraft design that was "Gold Plated" Of course you want the gold plated version but what were the requirements? Boeing has a plane in service that meets or exceeds the requirements. Simple really don't you think?
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