Tanker drama continues, but maybe Pentagon will gets its way
The drama has been going on for years and got uglier last year when the contract was awarded to Northrop Grumman/EADs over Boeing. Boeing cried foul and the Government Accountability Officer told the Pentagon to try again.
And then politics got in the way again. Lawmakers and lobbyists in Alabama, for Northrop Gumman/EADS, and Washington for Boeing, called the other guys un-American and other variations of patriotism related insults.
When Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stopped at Maxwell Air Force Base in April to peddle his budget recommendations, which included some significant cuts in aircraft and weapons systems, additional funds in other areas like cyberspace and what could be considered a step toward all around defense spending reform, Gates was asked about the tanker deal and said he was completely against a split or dual buy.
Having two types of tankers could raise costs in terms of maintenance and parts, he said. Plus, it sounded like he didn't appreciate Congress trying to force his hand on defense matters.
Then it came out that Murtha might be involved or somehow connected to some shady Air Force contracts and sure enough, the tough rhetoric simmered a bit.
Now the defense appropriations bill is coming out and it appears that Congress might do something really novel -- let the SecDef do his job.
The House Appropriations Committee version of the 2010 defense budget seems to use loose language that allows the Pentagon to buy and spend as it deems necessary rather than being directed by Congress.