A long and bumpy flight The tanker contract has had a remarkably tangled history. October 2001: As the airline industry struggles following...
The tanker contract has had a remarkably tangled history.
October 2001: As the airline industry struggles following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Air Force proposes to lease 100 air-refueling tankers from Boeing at a cost of $20 billion or more. Sen. John McCain quickly becomes the chief critic, calling it “a sweet deal” for Boeing that would cost taxpayers more than alternative plans.
November 2003: Boeing fires CFO Mike Sears and Darleen Druyun, vice president of missile-defense systems, after concluding Sears improperly offered her a job in October 2002 while she was a top Air Force acquisitions officer overseeing the tanker contract. Boeing CEO Phil Condit resigns a week later.
May 2004: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld effectively scraps the tanker-leasing deal.
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February 2005: CEO Harry Stonecipher says Boeing may close the slow-selling 767’s Everett production line pending a tanker decision. The line stays open, though.
September 2005: Northrop Grumman officially teams up with EADS, the parent of European aircraft-maker Airbus, to bid for the contract.
April 2006: The Air Force formally reopens its procurement process for replacing tankers.
January 2008: The Airbus chief says EADS will assemble commercial jets as well as Air Force tankers in Mobile, Ala., if his team wins.
February 2008: The Pentagon announces that Northrop/EADS will build its next generation of tankers, now named the KC-45A. News reports suggest that late changes in the contract criteria may provide grounds for the loser to appeal. The Pentagon is scheduled to brief Boeing on March 12 about why its bid lost.
Sources: Seattle Times archives and news services