The U.S. Air Forceâ€™s stunning decision to award a $40 billion refueling tanker contract to a foreign company is a bitter blow to Boeing Co. â€” and to Wichita, which stood to gain hundreds of jobs here from the project.
If this decision is truly in the best interests of the country, Kansans can live with it. But the Air Force has some explaining to do.
The decision flies in the face of Boeingâ€™s five decades of dominance and proven excellence in building military tankers.
The Boeing proposal would have sustained more than 44,000 stateside jobs, including more than 1,000 jobs at Boeing Wichita and its area subcontractors. The EADS/Northrop Grumman Corp. proposal would create only about half that many U.S. jobs.
One industry analyst said the Air Force judged the EADS/Northrop KC-30 proposal to be superior on four out of five criteria. One key factor: The KC-30 design was able to carry 23 percent more fuel or cargo, giving it a clear advantage in refueling missions.