Murtha Is Convinced on Tanker Split

On a visit last week to Mobile, Ala., the top House defense appropriator, Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) told business and political leaders that he is certain that the way forward for the KC-X tanker program is to split the buy between Boeing and Northrop Grumman, reports the Mobile Press-Register. Murtha hedged his comments slightly, saying, “I have to convince a lot of other people, but I have convinced myself … that we’ve got to find an alternative if we’re going to get this thing on track.” Some defense analysts and others agree with Murtha, but Defense Secretary Robert Gates reaffirmed last week his rejection of a split-buy approach, calling it a “terrible idea.” Mobile is the planned site for production of the Northrop tanker contender. Murtha called his visit to the area “very productive.” He also plans a visit to Washington state, home to Boeing’s production facility, and there may receive a less-than enthusiastic response to his split-buy solution. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), for one, opposes such a plan.