” Across the Internet and in full-page ads, a war has raged in recent weeks.”
- NewsHour Correspondent Kwame Holman
Two giant defense contractors, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, are battling over a disputed $35 billion contract to build air-refueling tankers for the U.S. Airforce. (Air tankers played a dramatic role during a recent segment of the amazing PBS documentary, Carrier. ) This procurement dispute is unfolding in the mass media, courtrooms, and Congress. Legislators representing the companies’ home states have joined the fray and lawyers and lobbyists are making the case for each company. In this vividly filmed report, NewsHour’s Kwame Holman details how both sides of this dispute make their case.
The high stakes and intense public airing of this debate opens a rare window into the process of military procurement. What are the pros and cons of each company’s tanker? Which one would you pick, and why? What is at stake? Why do both companies distribute their production facilities across many U.S. states? What is the value of having two companies compete for supplying military equipment? What strategies are employed to win the contract? What is the role of retired military personnel? What were the problems and outcomes of the Air Force’s attempt to give a “sole-source” tanker contract to Boeing in 2005? What percentage is $35 billion of the total defense budget? How much of the yearly U.S. defense budget goes to contractors?
Below are web links to material related to this story
NewsHour Report: Boeing, Northrop Grumman Clash Over Tanker Contract
Interview: Ronald Sugar, chairman and CEO of Northrop Grumman
Interview: Mark McGraw, vice president of Boeing’s tanker program
Interview: Gen. Gregory Martin, former commander, Air Force Material Command
Interview: Gen. Ronald Fogleman, former Air Force chief of staff
Interview: Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., Defense Appropriations Subcommittee
Interview: Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Defense Appropriations Subcommittee
Reuters: US GAO begins hearing on tanker deal
NY Times: Fired Boeing Worker Starts to Talk
Washington Post: E-Mails Detail Air Force Push for Boeing Deal