Tanker Saga

Some industry analysts are not buying the “opt out” declared by Northrop Grumman earlier this week, likening it to similar ones from both Boeing and Northrop in the original KC-X competition. Credit Suisse analyst Robert Spingarn reportedly stated in an industry note, “Northrop’s decision to abandon the tanker bid versus Boeing is merely a posturing move in our view.” However, others are taking the threat more seriously. Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the defense appropriations panel, told reporters that Northrop’s revelation is a “blow to the program” and planned to talk with Pentagon acquisition chief Ash Carter, perhaps to revisit the split-buy approach he favors. (Northrop backers also recently cited interest in a split award.) Defense analyst Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute blogs that Northrop’s Wes Bush “is quite willing to walk away.” (Also see Market Watch report; The Telegraph report; The Hill report; DOD Buzz report)