The Air Force will announce the winner of the $35 billion KC-X tanker contract on Thursday, February 24 after financial markets close. Judging from the frequency with which Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter has been talking up the notion of a “globalized” defense market recently, European aerospace giant EADS is the winner.
If EADS rival Boeing has indeed lost, it probably will not issue substantive comments on the outcome until it has been debriefed by the Air Force. Once it has heard how the decision was made, it can determine whether there are grounds for a formal protest.
EADS is already acting like it has won, which isn’t surprising since it knows its plane received a higher warfighting effectiveness rating. Boeing could challenge the rating methodology and several other facets of the selection process, but since price is the key discriminator in the outcome, it is more likely to pursue a political strategy focusing on EADS use of prohibited trade subsidies in developing and marketing its planes.
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