Northrop “Clearly Provided” Best Value

Service acquisition chief Sue Payton said during the award announcement of the much-anticipated KC-X contract Feb. 29 (see above), “We had two very competitive offers in this competition.” However, it was clear as she and Air Mobility Command boss Gen. Arthur Lichte discussed the award and the program that USAF wanted a wide swath of capabilities, from cargo to refueling to passenger capacity, rather than a straight tanker. Payton asserted, “Northrop Grumman clearly provided the best value to the government.” Payton reviewed once again the five factors used to make the award determination, saying that the Northrop Grumman/EADS KC-30 tanker, which USAF plans to redesignate KC-45A, was strong in the aerial refueling and airlift mission capability areas, as well as demonstrating “excellent” past performance and “great advantage” in the cost price factor. Those are two of the top three factors. Northrop earlier had done its own evaluation of Factor 5, integrated fleet air refueling, and considered the KC-30 to be at least 20 percent more capable than the Boeing KC-767. Payton refused to detail the reasons why Boeing lost, citing the need for an extensive contractor debrief that would occur around March 12. Asked if past contracting concerns with Boeing played into the selection, Payton didn’t respond directly, rather she said, “The records are very clear … and they know exactly where they have stood all along in all of the various factors.”