Of the many lessons to be learned from the Boeing tanker scandal, one should clearly be that before you place a big order for military aircraft, first make sure you need them. Not only does this seem to make good business sense, it's included in Pentagon acquisition regulations. Nonetheless, it looks like the Air Force and Boeing could be headed for another cart-before-the-horse episode.
Aerospace Daily & Defense Report says in a story today that Boeing is threatening to close down its C-17 transport jet production line unless by January it gets a firm commitment for additional C-17's from the Air Force.
But here's the problem: A Department of Defense (DoD) Mobility Capability Study of airlift requirements isn't due to be completed until February or March, according to the story.
So far Boeing has delivered 139 of 180 C-17's already ordered. But even before the need for more of the troop and equipment sky haulers has been documented, the Air Force brass are saying they need an additional 42 C-17's. (DoD mobility studies are designed to analyze overall needs of the U.S. military. Sometimes the Pentagon's civilian leadership doesn't agree with the Air Force and cuts its wish lists.)
Count on Boeing lobbyists to be paying visits soon to Congressional and Pentagon offices, if they haven't already. Boeing is already playing the media card with Boeing C-17 Program Manager David Bowman briefing reporters on the risk that C-17 production lines will shut-down potentially affecting "a huge industrial base." Members of Congress take production line shutdown threats from contractors seriously, and the military brass has become very skilled at playing the shrinking defense industrial base card.
But who's looking out for the taxpayers?
UPDATE: Today the Government Accountability Office released a report questioning the methodology of current and future DoD mobility studies.