This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
The third time’s a charm – we devoutly hope – with the Air Force’s snake-bit effort to replace its ancient KC-135 aerial refueling tankers.
Last Thursday, The Boeing Co. and its archrival European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. submitted yet another pair of bids for the $35 billion-plus contract to build America’s next tanker. The Pentagon expects to pick a winner fairly quickly, perhaps in a matter of weeks.
Anticipation is high, and not just because of the money and jobs at stake. No one can be quite sure the Air Force won’t blow this decision once more.
Aerial refueling is the linchpin of most of America’s global military operations, and it is approaching the breaking point.
The oldest KC-135s rolled out more than a half century ago, when color television was a rare novelty. The military was supposed to start getting new planes five years ago.
But the first attempt to award the contract collapsed in a corruption scandal, and the second fell apart in 2008 when auditors discovered that the Air Force had made billion-dollar blunders when it awarded the work to EADS.
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