Being Grounded

Pentagon acquisition czar John Young said July 10 the revised request for proposals for the KC-X tanker will do a better job of mirroring the requirements that were established for the platform. And the updated solicitation will also more clearly articulate the prioritization of those requirements, Young told the House Armed Services AirLand subcommittee (see below). “The RFP will work to make that clear so that both the industry teams can understand what we value,” he said. “Grounding” the requirements in the RFP will be a big part of the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s strategy to address the points that the Government Accountability Office upheld in Boeing’s successful legal protest of the KC-X contract award to Northrop Grumman in the original competition. OSD would like to resolve the legal impasse and choose the winner by year’s end, although Young has acknowledged that this timeline is a best-case scenario. One anticipated change in the revised RFP will be to ask the offerors to estimate costs to operate the KC-X fleet for 40 years vice 25 as the original RFP instructed, Young said. “The [KC-X] capability development document does require a 40-year life of this aircraft,” he said. “And so I need to, within our team, reconcile the RFP at 25 years [with] the requirements document at 40.” Young characterized prioritizing the requirements as the “other major issue” to tackle in the revised RFP. “There were some 808 specific requirements,” in the original solicitation, he said. “What we need to do—and I believe consistent with the GAO findings—is … to make clear which of those requirements we may place greater or lesser value on.” (For more read “The Air Is Charged.”)