Cantwell Statement on Air Force Tanker Competition

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell issued the following statement on the eve of the release by the U.S. Air Force of its final Request for Proposal (RFP) on the air refueling tanker competition:
“I am pushing to make sure the Department of Defense acts with urgent focus to correct past mistakes in the tanker competition.  U.S. forces, including the men and women at Fairchild Air Force Base, WA, need new air refueling tankers to effectively conduct their vital national security responsibilities. I am seeking the best tanker possible for American warfighters as well as American taxpayers.  At stake across the United States are some 50,000 jobs, many of them in Washington state.
“I will be listening and asking questions Wednesday at a briefing by top Pentagon officials, including Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn III, and Undersecretary for Acquisition Ashton Carter, who are overseeing the tanker competition.  This is the largest contract in Pentagon history, so it is essential to U.S. national security and to safeguarding U.S. jobs that are vital to our nation’s future defense industrial base.  Last year I pressed to make sure that the administration held a fair and transparent competition and that when mistakes were made I pushed for them to be corrected.  Among other things, I have emphasized that all relevant national security concerns must be taken into account by decision-makers in this process.  I applaud the statement by Defense Secretary Robert Gates that he will move forward with the tanker competition regardless of the number of bidders.
“Military refueling tankers are a vital component of our national security and our ability to respond to threats rapidly and over great distances.  The tankers in use today, including those based at Fairchild, are in many cases older than the pilots flying them.  It’s past time to act.”