Washington, USA: The Pentagon opened a second round of bidding Wednesday for a $35 billion US Air Force tanker contract which ran into controversies after an initial bid was challenged by losing firm, Boeing. Its challenge was also corroborated by a Congressional oversight office, which pointed out errors in decision making by the Air Force.
This forced defence secretary, Robert M Gates, to re-open the bidding keeping in mind the discrepancies pointed out by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The two firms competing for the contract to supply 179 aerial refuelling tankers to the US Air Force are the Northrop Grumman Corporation and the Boeing Company. These tankers are meant to replace the air force's ageing tanker fleet that dates to the 1950s.
According to reports, the new bids will be due 1 October with an early decision expected as secretary Gates has expressed his anxiety over likely delays to a project that is of strategic importance to the country's defence.
In the original bidding, the Northrop-EADS combine were declared the winners for their entry based on the Airbus 330 airframe. Boeing's offering was based on its 767 airframe.
The fresh round of bidding will address itself to eight issues where the GAO had found problems with the initial bidding.
The EADS tanker is larger than Boeing's, and the GAO said it was unfairly given credit even though there were no size requirements. Size has been specified in the new requirements. Another issue that would be addressed this time around would be the amount of fuel that can be used for refilling aircraft.
Another change from the last round of bidding would be the presence of Pentagon acquisition chief, John Young, as the lead official for the new contract award process in place of the US Air Force.