Once the Pentagon chose the Airbus A330 over the Boeing 767 to begin replacing over 500 aging Boeing KC-135 tankers, it was a sure bet that sparks would fly. And they did, within hours of the selection.
The Boeing folks of course are really upset at losing a $35 billion contract. Yes, that billion with a “B.” But then some might say Boeing never deserved to win in the first place since the A330 is technologically superior to the Boeing. The first 767 rolled off the assembly line almost 30 years ago. The A330 series took to the air in the early 1990s. For the Boeing folks, losing the tanker contract also means the days of the 767 assembly line and its jobs are very short indeed, just a few years in fact.
Of course, there are those in Washington that realize John McCain’s hand in the discussions, especially since he led the fight against Boeing the first time the competition began a few years back. A number of senior Boeing officials ended up in the slammer amidst corruption charges that eventually halted the entire tanker competition process. Some say Boeing never stood a chance once the Republican presidential nominee and hand picked successor to George Bush got behind Airbus.
Then too, there is the national security concern of handing over the production of strategic Air Force vehicles to a bunch of those Europeans. This is enough to make people as nervous – if not more so – than Cessna’s choice of a Chinese company to assemble the Skycatcher. I know I won’t be able to sleep. Of course I can’t sleep anyway worrying about making the next mortgage payment anyway, but no matter.
Of course, the Airbus folks are not in this project alone. They were smart enough to link up with a U.S. company to help them land the deal, in this case Northrop/Grumman, a group that needed a good defense deal probably more than Boeing if it was to have any future position in the industry.
OK, wait. Now I think I have this straight.
I should stand against the Airbus despite the fact that its a superior airplane to the Boeing. And I should be for Boeing despite the corruption at that behemoth. And I should be against Airbus winning this contract because we’re potentially sharing vital national secrets with the EU folks. But I thought we’d been allies for 60 or 70 years now???
Wait, wait, now I have it.
We should definitely be against the Airbus deal because we’ll be sending valuable U.S. jobs to a bunch of … well, Europeans, right? Hang on. I think Airbus is going to build part of the tanker in Alabama aren’t they?
Sorry, but I’m really getting confused. Sounds like someone’s flip-flopping here to me. I’m going to write my Congressman about this mess once I figure out what it is I’m really upset about that is.