CHRONOLOGY-Long road to Boeing’s US Air Force tanker win – Reuters

Feb 24 (Reuters) – Boeing Co (BA.N) beat out Airbus parent EADS (EAD.PA) to win a contract worth over $ 30 billion for new U.S. Air Force aerial refueling planes. [ID:nN23181087]

It was the third attempt since 2001 to begin replacing a fleet of KC-135 refueling planes which are now about 50 years old on average. Two earlier efforts failed amid ethics violations and technical mistakes.

The following is a chronology of events in what Boeing’s commercial airplane chief Jim Albaugh has described as “the longest-running soap opera since ‘Days of Our Lives’”:

Sept. 25, 2001 – Darleen Druyun, then the Air Force’s No. 2 acquisition official, meets with Boeing officials to map out a strategy to lease 100 Boeing 767s.

January, 2002 – Congress passes a law appropriating defense funds for fiscal year 2002 that gives the Air Force permission to lease up to 100 Boeing 767s.

October, 2002 – While still negotiating with Boeing about the tanker lease, Druyun meets with then-Boeing Chief Financial Officer Michael Sears to discuss a job offer. Sears tells her: “This meeting really didn’t take place.” A month later Druyun retires and accepts a $ 250,000-a-year job with Boeing.

January, 2003 – Boeing announces Druyun’s hiring. Watchdog group Project on Government Oversight describes it as “one of the most egregious examples in recent memory of the revolving door between the federal government and defense contractors.”

May, 2003 – Four days before his retirement, then-Pentagon chief arms buyer Edward Aldridge approves $ 23.5 billion Air Force plan to lease, then buy, Boeing 767 tankers.

November, 2003 – Boeing fires Druyun and Sears for unethical conduct in Druyun’s hiring. Boeing Chief Executive Phil Condit resigns a week later.

March, 2004 – Pentagon inspector general says the Air Force’s tanker procurement strategy was inappropriate and recommends a halt until the Pentagon resolves several issues.

April, 2004 – Druyun pleads guilty to a conflict of interest violation and later sentenced to nine months in prison.

November, 2004 – Sears pleads guilty to conflict of interest violation and is sentenced to four months in prison.

September, 2005 – Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N) says it will team with EADS to compete for an Air Force tanker contract, offering a variant of the A330 airliner.

January, 2007 – The Air Force releases final rules for a new tanker competition after agreeing to exempt a World Trade Organization dispute between the European Union and the United States that could have knocked Northrop out of the contest.

February, 2008 – The Air Force awards a projected $ 35 billion contract for up to 179 refueling planes to Northrop and EADS.

March, 2008 – Boeing protests the award, citing “serious flaws” in the acquisition process.

British Airways Boeing 737-400
Creative Commons License photo credit: Deanster1983

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