Tanker Saga, Continued

by reader ilsm

The Tanker Saga, Continued, New York Times Oct 8 2009:

Trying to recover from past mistakes, the Pentagon has initiated a third competition for a new Air Force midair refueling tanker. After two bungled attempts, defense officials, contractors and Congress really need to get it right this time.


Another unresolved competition is definitely not in the country’s interest.

The new tankers are needed to replace the current Eisenhower-era planes. With the United States engaged in two wars and countless other missions around the globe, the Obama administration, Congress and defense contractors must ensure that, this time, a fair and open bidding process produces the best tanker at the best price to meet the Air Force’s needs.

Why must the Air Force: “replace the current Eisenhower-era planes.”

The world is a totally different place than 1951. The “threats” are greatly reduced and the implied “replacing” avoids treating with the question of why have new expensive hard to maintain tankers to replace Eisenhower era airplanes. My answer is to create a fiction, a reason to spend huge sums of money which make the PAC’s happy?

One of the defects in DoD weapon system acquisition is the disconnect between what is needed to provide for the common defense and what is bought under the auspices of national security. The Joint Chiefs don’t identify gaps, and then the non capability gaps are not transformed into technical needs that can be delivered. A perfect circular loop with a logic vacuum.

The KC 135 was designed to complement the B 52, long before buffpilot’s time. In that mission a huge number of B 52’s would be refueled enroute to letting Slim Pickens ride his A bomb down on some important Soviet target.

In Vietnam a small number of the total KC 135’s was sent to make light, short range fighter aircraft into heavily loaded bombers to engage in an expensive and fruitless long range bombing campaign in an unwinnable war.

Later, Air Force spending planners recognized that huge a KC 10 aircraft could be mixed as a tanker and cargo plane. First they bought 40, then they added another 20 to make 60 huge refuelers which could also carry cargo and people, and which never found a mission.

The problem with the Air Force is they want a huge tanker to do all three unnecessary, too expensive and low chance of providing for the common defense missions.

And so their acceptance criteria are 388 issues all not related to the common defense, however they make it possible to debate endlessly the merits of a selection that should not be made. But for the PACs………..

Update: by ilsm..How many hugely costly air tankers are needed to make up for bad (no or untested) specifications?

Planning to maintain a level of industry profits is not national security.

by reader ilsm