Those Pesky Trade Issues

Neither the ongoing airliner trade dispute with Europe nor industrial base concerns will be factors in the revised requests for proposals on the KC-X tanker, Pentagon officials said yesterday (see above). Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters at a press conference that the GAO found the Air Force’s mechanism for addressing World Trade Organization disputes about airliner subsidies to be adequate. The original KC-X request for proposals said that if either side gets hit with tariffs, those extra costs won’t be allowable expenses in the program. Likewise, Gates said that industrial base issues won’t be addressed. He wants to change the RFP “the minimum amount” necessary to address the eight concerns raised by the GAO, to avoid adding any more delay to the program. There are “few programs that are more time-critical” than the tanker, Gates asserted.