Lowest Cost Not So Critical?:

The Air Force has placed price of its KC-X tanker replacement at a lower level than four other key criteria, reports Andrea Shalal-Esa of Reuters news service. The service plans to rate a combination of four other criteria—mission capability, proposal risk, past performance, and integrated fleet assessment—ahead of cost for the development and purchase of the 179 aircraft in the KC-X increment. According to Reuters, lower price was one of the Northrop Grumman-EADS North America team’s strongest selling points. However, Northrop officials have been making a strong case for the ability of the KC-30 to carry more fuel, more cargo, and more passengers and mounted a vigorous campaign to offset any Buy American bias. What USAF doesn’t want is a protest from either Boeing or Northrop, which would delay the program.