The Air Force will soon release its final request for proposed bids in the long saga of replacing it's mid-air refueling tankers. Boeingand Northrop Grumman/EADSare facing off again for a massive deal that will start at $35 billion, but could end up over $100 billion.
Nothing about this deal has gone smoothly, and it looks like that's not going to change.
Boeing supporters took an early lead in complaining about the new competition, even before the Air Force released a draft of its request for proposal (RFP).
In September, politicians from Washington and Kansas, where the Boeing tanker would be made, said the tanker competition won't be "fair" if the Air Force doesn't take into account a preliminary ruling by the World Trade Organization that Northrop's European partner, EADS, benefits from illegal subsidies. The Air Force says the WTO situation is irrelevant to this competition.
Now it's Northrop Grumman's turn to complain, and its concerns could potentially be more serious. After Northrop won the original tanker competition last year, and after that win was overturned because the GAO sided with Boeing in a protest, the Air Force let Boeing see Northrop's bidding information.
The Air Force says it did so according to regulations, and that the information is now of no use. Northrop Grumman disagrees, arguing the information is confidential and not subject to the regulations cited. Northrop wants to see Boeing's bid information from the last round, but Boeing has said "no" and the Air Force won't hand over the data.