The two hands of the tanker deal


The decision by the U.S. Air Force to award a $35 billion air tanker contract to — primarily — a European consortium raises many conflicting sentiments around the country. Boeing has provided the tankers to the Air Force for over 50 years.

On the one hand, people want the Pentagon to spent spend its money a bit more wisely, and a competitive bidding process assures that.

On the other hand, what’s the point of designing a big stimulus package to jump start the economy, and then doing what you can to depress it… at least in Seattle?

That was Sen. Patty Murray’s view on the Senate floor today when she said, “Instead of securing the American economy and military at a time while we are at war, we are creating a European economic stimulus package at the expense of U.S. workers.”

On the one hand: the government should be giving contracts to American firms.

On the other hand: Don’t the Americans in the military deserve the best the nation can provide?

And that, analysts say, is what the Pentagon did. The tanker from Airbus was — simply stated — better.

While it may be a red, white, & blue issue, it’s not necessarily black and white.

Photo: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

  • Marielle Harrison

    Don’t you have editors that review a story text before you print it? In the fourth line…. “people want the Pentagon to spenD its money…..” This may seem trivial, but it detracts from your writing.

  • d

    Isn’t it more accurately described as Northrop/Grumman and EADS? That seems to be more of a US/European consortium.

    For whatever it’s worth:

    Northrop Grumman-EADS said the contract would create 25,000 jobs involving 230 suppliers in 49 states.

    The Northrop Grumman-EADS tanker is based on the newer Airbus A330 airframe. The planes are built in Toulouse, France, with final assembly planned for a new plant in Mobile, Ala.

    I know that’s “glass half full” and all that, but… isn’t Boeing doing pretty well with the multi-billion dollar F-22 Raptor contract? Seems long term beneficial to keep Northrop/Grumman around too. And Alabama could surely benefit from an influx of jobs too.