Here's one big difference between Boeing and Northrop Grumman : PR. Going into the long-anticipated tanker decision Friday, the Boeing team was in hourly contact with us, preparing for post-decision interviews. They've been in regular contact with me since last summer. Heck, they even sent me KC-767 playing cards!
As for Northrop Grumman, they were always responsive during the competition, just not nearly as proactive. Even in victory, it's been hard to nail down an interview with Northrop. While today, even in defeat, Boeing was notifying reporters about a conference call with outraged labor leaders who are demanding Congress ground the tanker contract.
The bone of contention--the deal sends jobs away from the U.S. and to Northrop's European partner, Airbus parent EADS, accused of unfair subsidies (Boeing has been accused of unfair subsidies as well...).
The outraged labor leaders were soundbite machines: "This is one of the worst events I have ever seen..." "The Department of Defense has declared open season on American manufacturing jobs." "This is worse than the Dubai Port scandal!"
Richard Michalski of the International Association of Machinists suggests that the Air Force General who raved about the Northrop-Airbus plane, Arthur Lichte, should "go to France and join the French Foreign Legion!" Talk about down but not out...at least from a PR perspective.