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GAO Details Tanker Blunders

A new, fuller account of the June 18 auditor’s ruling that gives Boeing (BA) another shot at a $35 billion contract for refueling tanker planes details numerous instances of “prejudicial” bungling by the U.S. Air Force as it weighed Boeing’s bid against the chosen manufacturer, Northrop Grumman (NOC) and European partner European Aeronautic Defence & Space (EAD.PA), the parent of Airbus, BusinessWeek.com reports.


The Air Force made mistakes in math and procedure, failed to consider all information it was given, underestimated costs by hundreds of millions of dollars, changed specifications and ratings but only notified Northrop of the changes, and failed to check that the tankers could refuel all planes in the fleet, according to the 67-page Government Accountability Office ruling made public June 25.


If not for the mistakes, said the GAO, “we believe that Boeing would have had a substantial chance of being selected for award.”


The disclosure came on the eve of a scheduled June 26 meeting between Defense Secretary Robert Gates and top acquisition officials to decide a course of action on the oft-delayed, controversial, and politically charged purchase of hundreds of tankers, one of the decade’s most expensive military contracts.


Read the full BusinessWeek story

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