In recent years, Boeing has suffered several major setbacks in its defense business, stoking a perception that the enterprise is not what it once was. However, a close look at how those setbacks unfolded suggests that the government played an important part in each reversal. In the case of the KC-46 tanker, it set the company up for big losses by refusing to take into account illegal subsidies provided to Airbus in comparing bids. In the case of the B-21 bomber, it accepted an improbable bid from the team competing against Boeing despite the likely risks to the program. In the case of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, it allowed Boeing’s rival to enter into a merger that unbalanced the competitive landscape to Boeing’s detriment. If the government had made better choices on each of these programs, the outcomes might well have been different. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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