Quite a bit went on during the week in the ongoing story about the multibillion-dollar Air Force tanker contract. One item of particular note: The Air Force decided not to add language about the World Trade Organization ruling over subsidies to the request for proposal.
In a case brought by the United States, the WTO ruled subsidies from European governments to EADS’ Airbus were illegal. Boeing supporters wanted that considered when awarding the tanker project. But Air Force Secretary Michael Donley called the WTO ruling preliminary, and noted that another case brought by the European Union is pending.
Also during the week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Air Force will be in charge of awarding the $40 billion contract. The authority had been removed earlier when two previous attempts to award a contract were botched.
Meanwhile, Boeing unveiled additional details of the company's potential offering in the tanker competition during a briefing at the Air Force Association's 2009 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition in Washington, D.C. The company said it’s prepared to offer either the 767 or larger 777. The company also launched a new Web site for information on the KC-7A7.
Boeing is competing against the Northrop Grumman/EADS team to build the tankers. EADS wants to assemble them in Mobile, Ala. Boeing wants to make them in Washington state.
There was also a tanker-related item that’s not really tanker related. Ronald D. Sugar, chairman and CEO of Northrop Grumman since 2003, announced he'll retire in June 2010. Wesley G. Bush, president and chief operating officer, will take his place.
Air Force officials during the week released the criteria to determine where F-35 Joint Strike Fighters will be based. Factors such as airspace, flight training ranges, weather, support facilities, runways and more will be important. More than 200 sites will be evaluated for the two lists the Air Force is compiling. One is for F-35 operations, the other for training. The lists will be announced in the spring of 2010. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., already has a lock on its F-35s. It’s been designated as the joint training base.
The 308th Armament Systems Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., now has a new director, Randy Brown. The wing is transitioning to a directorate as part of the realignment plan. The 308th ARSW is a joint Air Force and Navy organization responsible for management of air dominance weapon system programs.
- A bronze plaque was mounted on a granite pedestal and placed in front of the Air Armament Museum during the week to commemorate Eglin Air Force Base as a historic aerospace site. The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics named Eglin as one of four sites to receive the honor for 2009.
- American Airline announced a new service for Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport in Florida. The company said it will offer two nonstop daily flights to Miami on its American Eagle regional jet service by the end of this year.
At least five contracts of interest to the Gulf Coast were awarded during the week. Harkins Development Corp., Sanford, Fla., was awarded a $7.5 million contract for the design/build of a concrete block facility at Hurlburt Field, Fla. … Hanco Corp., Hattiesburg, Miss., was awarded an $8.1 million contract for construction of a barracks, warehouse, and houses at Camp Shelby, Miss. … Greenhut Construction Co. Inc., Pensacola, Fla., was awarded a $10.6 million contract for the design, repair and modernization of the administrative building at Naval Air Station Pensacola. … Rehabilitation Services of Madison, Miss., was awarded a $19.5 million contract to provide a full food service contract at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. 81 CONS, Keesler Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. … BAE Systems Technical Services of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $39.6 million contract to manage, operate, maintain, and logistically support the solid state phased array radar system at several bases.