Temporary Step Back From Dual Buy

Key House defense appropriator Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) has decided he cannot force language into the Fiscal 2009 war supplemental to direct the Pentagon to work a dual buy for USAF’s KC-X tanker program, but he does plan to pursue the hot topic in the Fiscal 2010 defense legislation, according to a May 1 report by the Press-Register. Murtha, other lawmakers, and many defense analysts support a dual-buy approach, despite continued Pentagon resistance, as the only sure-fire means to quickly field the new aerial refueling aircraft so vital to the US military. A spokesman for Murtha said the Congressman “remains committed to working out a plan that gets tankers in the air faster.” Pentagon boss Robert Gates has said a deal that would buy two tankers—a Boeing version and a Northrop Grumman version—would be too expensive. However, supporters of a dual-buy approach question his numbers and some question the Pentagon’s grasp of the potential catastrophe should the elderly KC-135s fail.