WASHINGTON: The Defense Department today informed companies interested in bidding on the KC-X aerial refueling tanker contract that if the European Aeronautics Defense and Space Co. formally expresses an intention to compete, the bidding deadline would be extended 60 days, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today.
“We are committed to a fair, open and transparent competition in order to get the best airplane to our warfighters at the best value to the taxpayers,” Morrell announced in a late-afternoon news conference here.
Officials announced the final request for proposals, the Air Force requirements for the refueling tanker and a May 10 deadline last month. EADS recently expressed interest in the contract and requested a 90-day extension.
“It is not uncommon to grant a reasonable extension in competitions of this sort, and we consider 60 days to be reasonable,” Morrell said.
The extension would give EADS and the Boeing Co., another company that has expressed interest, to submit their proposals by July 9.
Morrell also noted that the Pentagon is prepared to expedite the bid evaluation process to ensure production of the tanker begins in early fall.
“Given that this plane is long overdue, and we do not want its delivery date to slip later than it already has, we are prepared to compress our bid evaluation period to stay as close to the original award schedule as possible so as to still award the contract early this fall,” he said.
The extension should not be confused with a “willingness to change any of the plane’s military requirements or the way bids will be evaluated” in the future, he added, stressing that local and international politics did not influence the decision.
“Politics are not a part of this process –never have been, [and] never will be,” he said. “We are basing this strictly on the needs of the warfighter, the law of the land, and our desire to make sure that the taxpayers get their money’s worth.”
The Air Force KC-135 modernization program contract is estimated to be worth $35 billion.