Opting Out

Northrop Grumman on Monday officially pulled the plug on its participation in the Air Force’s KC-X tanker contest. In a statement, Northrop CEO and President Wes Bush said the company “will not submit a bid” for the rights to build new tankers for the Air Force after “a comprehensive analysis” of the tanker request for proposal issued in final form on Feb. 24. This leaves Boeing, which unveiled its 767-based NewGen Tanker on March 4, ostensibly as the sole offeror. Bush said the KC-X solicitation “clearly favors Boeing’s smaller refueling tanker and does not provide adequate value recognition of the added capability of a larger tanker”—such as Northop’s A330-based design—thereby “precluding us from any competitive opportunity.” Back in December, after the draft RFP hit the streets, Bush warned that Northrop would step away from the competition if it thought it had no fair shot of winning.