The New Authority

Once the source selection is made on the next go-round for the KC-X tanker program (see above), the Air Force will resume the lead role in executing the program, said Pentagon acquisition chief John Young, who has been tapped by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to lead the latest tanker selection process. Young told reporters Wednesday that a revised request for proposals addressing all of the concerns raised by the GAO will be issued late this month or in early August. He expects to award the tanker contract by the end of December. Young also said he’s still hopeful that the tanker can be fielded in Fiscal 2013, but noted it will be a “day-by-day” delay as the competition is refought. Both he and Gates called the need to get new tankers rolling off the assembly line “urgent” and said they will push to minimize further delay. Air Force acquisition chief Sue Payton will handle the details of answering GAO’s concerns. Young also said that although he’s a big fan of fly-offs, in this case, it would be too expensive and not yield much value. It’s OK for the Pentagon to accept “some risk” in relying on what he considers a manageable modification to commercial airliners to get the needed capability. Besides, there will be a “KC-Y and KC-Z” competition for more tankers down the road, he said. Young also dismissed any chance of a split buy, noting that it would actually retard competitive savings by giving a guaranteed minimum buy to each company.