Our Bureau
12:00 AM, July 15, 2008

Boeing and a Northrop Grumman-EADS team will be able to re-bid wholly new proposals for the U.S. Air Force KC-X refueling tanker program, and the Pentagon's acquisition chief expects to choose a winner by the end of the year, officials said today. The defense secretary, Air Force secretary and Defense Department acquisition chief John Young told Pentagon reporters that the move is an attempt to provide a valid acquisition decision as quickly as possible while speeding toward delivery of the new aerial refuelers. Nevertheless, Young said the program's cost and initial operational capability remain uncertain due to the need to re-mount the effort for a third time. Young's office will not just make the final source selection, but it will lead a newly formed source-selection advisory committee. He said the goal was to make as few changes as possible to the Air Force's earlier request for proposals, but enough to address Government Accountability Office concerns. A new RFP is expected late this month or in early August, while the source selection will occur in December. The Air Force's program requirements remain unchanged, Young said, but the bidding rivals will be able to essentially bid anew.