USA — Pentagon May Extend Tanker Bid Deadline

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2010 — The Defense Depart­ment today informed com­pa­nies inter­est­ed in bid­ding on the KC‑X aer­ri­al refu­el­ing tanker con­tract that if the Euro­pean Aero­nau­tics Defense and Space Co. for­mal­ly express­es an inten­tion to com­pete, the bid­ding dead­line would be extend­ed 60 days, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary Geoff Mor­rell said today. “We are com­mit­ted to a fair, open and trans­par­ent com­pe­ti­tion in order to get the best air­plane to our warfight­ers at the best val­ue to the tax­pay­ers,” Mor­rell announced in a late-after­noon news con­fer­ence here.

Offi­cials announced the final request for pro­pos­als, the Air Force require­ments for the refu­el­ing tanker and a May 10 dead­line last month. EADS recent­ly expressed inter­est in the con­tract and request­ed a 90-day exten­sion.

“It is not uncom­mon to grant a rea­son­able exten­sion in com­pe­ti­tions of this sort, and we con­sid­er 60 days to be rea­son­able,” Mor­rell said.

The exten­sion would give EADS and the Boe­ing Co., anoth­er com­pa­ny that has expressed inter­est, to sub­mit their pro­pos­als by July 9.

Mor­rell also not­ed that the Pen­ta­gon is pre­pared to expe­dite the bid eval­u­a­tion process to ensure pro­duc­tion of the tanker begins in ear­ly fall.

“Giv­en that this plane is long over­due, and we do not want its deliv­ery date to slip lat­er than it already has, we are pre­pared to com­press our bid eval­u­a­tion peri­od to stay as close to the orig­i­nal award sched­ule as pos­si­ble so as to still award the con­tract ear­ly this fall,” he said.

The exten­sion should not be con­fused with a “will­ing­ness to change any of the plane’s mil­i­tary require­ments or the way bids will be eval­u­at­ed” in the future, he added, stress­ing that local and inter­na­tion­al pol­i­tics did not influ­ence the deci­sion.

“Pol­i­tics are not a part of this process –nev­er have been, [and] nev­er will be,” he said. “We are bas­ing this strict­ly on the needs of the warfight­er, the law of the land, and our desire to make sure that the tax­pay­ers get their money’s worth.”

The Air Force KC-135 mod­ern­iza­tion pro­gram con­tract is esti­mat­ed to be worth $35 bil­lion.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)