Tanker Split Buy Bad Idea: AMC Commander
At a recent breakfast with defense reporters, the leader of Air Mobility Command, General Arthur Lichte, nixed the idea of dividing the tanker contract between rivals Boeing and Northrop-Grumman. And, according to DefenseBuzz, Lichte is all-but-resigned to another round of protests between the defense giants.
On the split buy, which has largely been pushed by Boeing supporters, Lichte said that if he is ordered by Congress to handle two different tanker fleets then he will salute and implement. But he clearly doesn’t want it to happen. “I’m not really in favor of it,” he said, and ticked off the reasons why: two logistics lines, two training programs, two … well, you get the idea.
Still, he was careful to leave the door open. “However, if you were to tell me that was the only way to get out of [the current situation] then I’d take it,” Lichte said.
[Lichte] is worried that “the poisonous nature of some of the comments” that have come from the two companies and their supporters will make it very difficult to “make peace with everybody.” Making his job even more complicated, he is resigned to another protest. He told reporters at the Defense Writers Group breakfast that “when the RFP comes out I wouldn’t be surprised if one side or the other files a protest.”
Boeing and Northrop Grumman should note that Lichte said several times, in several different ways, that he really hoped no one would file another protest after the next contract award. I asked him if he had told his bosses there was a cutoff date for a contract award beyond which the risk to the fleet would become overwhelming. “I have not come up with a date,” he said, adding that “we need a new tanker now” and he does not care which plane is picked as long as something gets picked.”
We can always hope.
H/T to Sean Meade at Aviation Week's Ares defense blog.