Sen. Wicker: Tanker process "would have been a charade" - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Sen. Wicker: Tanker process "would have been a charade"

WASHINGTON, DC (WLOX) - After Northrop Grumman announced Monday it would not bid on the Air Force refueling tanker contract, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker backed the company's decision in no uncertain terms.

"I don't blame Northrop Grumman for refusing to participate in what would have been a charade," the Mississippi senator said in the statement. "The final RFP clearly stacked the deck for Boeing's smaller, less capable plane. This is a regrettable result for the American taxpayer and for our national defense.

"The office of the Secretary of Defense made a political decision back in 2008 after the objective competition awarded the contract to the Northrop Grumman-EADS team. I regret this outcome for the thousands of American workers across the country – including those in Mississippi and Alabama – who were not given a fair chance to compete for next generation aerospace jobs.

 "Unless the RFP can be reversed, this entire process does irreparable damage to the credibility of competitive acquisition in the future."

Mississippi's Senior Senator Thad Cochran is the ranking Republican on the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. He said, "Acquisition of an aerial tanker replacement has taken far too long and been subject to too many missteps. For a program of this scope, a competitive award would have resulted in a better value for the warfighter and the nation."

Governor Haley Barbour also expressed concern about the bidding process and what it means to the military and American taxpayers.

"It's a shame Northrop Grumman was compelled to pull out of the bidding on the Air Force tanker contract," Barbour said in a statement Monday evening. "The process used to choose the companies that build for the military should encourage competition instead of discouraging it. Sole-sourcing is not fair to America's war fighters, the Air Force or the American taxpayer."

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