Defense Secretary Robert Gates remains steadfast in his opposition to a split-buy of aerial tankers for the Air Force even though the idea is gaining traction on Capitol Hill among lawmakers in key defense-oversight positions like Rep. John Murtha (D-Penn.) and Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii). Meeting with reporters in the Pentagon Wednesday, Gates reiterated his stance that a split-buy is “bad public policy” and “bad acquisition policy” as well as a “bad deal” for taxpayers. (News conference excerpt) Procuring new tankers from both Boeing and Northrop Grumman, as opposed to choosing a winner from among them based on a fair competition for the KC-X program, would force the Air Force to maintain two different logistics trains and two kinds of training set-ups, Gates said. “Everything would have to be duplicated in the support structure,” he noted. He also reiterated that he has received no direction from the White House to delay the KC-X program by as much as five years, as was the rumor running amuck inside the Washington Beltway earlier this month.
The Air Force has picked Northrop Grumman over L3Harris and Lockheed Martin to develop and build the Stand-in Attack Weapon, meant to swiftly destroy enemy air defense sites and other high-value targets.