Let the Process Play Out:

So said Northrop Grumman Chairman and CEO Ronald Sugar March 13 while discussing the Air Force’s KC-X award to his company at the end of February and the subsequent legal challenge by losing bidder Boeing. Appearing on CNBC’s Squawk Box program, Sugar said the KC-30—now designated the KC-45A—is “absolutely the best tanker” for the nation and the Air Force’s evaluation process was solid. “I have no reason to believe that there was anything other than a full, fair, open, and transparent process,” he said. For those in Congress “concerned” about USAF’s choice, Sugar said he hopes that they will allow the Air Force to move forward with fielding the badly needed tankers once the Government Accountability Office rules on the protest (assuming, of course, the GAO does not side with Boeing’s complaints). “To do anything different,” he cautions” frankly, would undermine the integrity of the overall procurement process.” Sugar also defended the KC-45A tanker team from what he described as the “tremendous amount of misinformation” even “disinformation” that is circulating. “To simplistically say—or jingoistically say” that the KC-45A is not an American tanker while Boeing’s KC-767 is, is “absolutely untrue,” he said. In fact, Northrop says the KC-45A tanker will expand the US industrial base by 48,000 direct and indirect new jobs, with 230 suppliers located in 49 states. But to help make its case on Capitol Hill, the company has hired the lobbying firm headed by former Senators John Breux (D-La.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.), the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported March 14.