The Air Force is apparently moving to award its $85 billion replacement program for the Minuteman ICBM to Northrop Grumman. Boeing, the other offeror in what was supposed to be a competition, withdrew alleging that the deck had been stacked against it. The problem was that Northrop bought the only company making large solid rocket motors used on ballistic missiles, and then leveraged its new asset to put Boeing at a disadvantage. At least, that’s what Boeing claims. This outcome could have been avoided if the Federal Trade Commission and Air Force had moved to maintain a level playing field, but they didn’t until Boeing had fallen too far behind to mount a competitive bid. Boeing now looks likely to be shut out of a market where it has been a key participant for several decades–even though it might have had the best solution for replacing Minuteman. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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