Sep 25 2009

Alabama senators react to tanker request

Seattle Post Intelligencer

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., on Thursday praised the Air Force for declining to consider an interim World Trade Organization ruling on European subsidies to Airbus in its new competition to provide new aerial refueling tankers.

"After initial review, the Air Force has made the fair and just determination to not include provisions that would irresponsibly penalize one competitor based on unfounded results of an interim World Trade Organization report," Shelby said in a statement. "This is the right decision."

Boeing backers had pushed the Air Force to consider the interim ruling to punish the competing bid of Northrop Grumman and Airbus parent EADS. The Northrop-EADS team would assemble its tanker in Alabama.

After a briefing on the request for proposals, due out Friday, Shelby also said:

While the overview reiterated the Air Force and Department of Defense's commitment to not utilize a lowest-price, technically acceptable acquisition process, the devil is in the details. I look forward to further examining the full draft RFP to ensure that it provides a level playing field for the competitors and the best capability for the warfighter.

Shelby's fellow Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions issued a statement saying, in part:

We learned today that the Air Force, in an effort to reduce the potential for protest or appeal, is going to utilize more objective criteria in its selection process. It is critical that the criteria be written in a way that delivers the aircraft that is the best value to the military. We have not seen the actual document, so I'm not yet able to express an opinion on whether it meets that test. Industry will also have to look closely at that question, as well as whether the final RFP is written to favor one bidder over the other.