All join round and mingle fine
Shake hands now -- no kissin', mind
Choose your partners, then dance 'round
Love that Pentagon Hoedown
Rarely has the world of defense contracting more resembled a barnyard dance than this week. A few weeks ago, as you may recall, I regaled you with the latest news from the presidential helicopter contest. Having seen its previous version of the aircraft grounded by cost overruns, Lockheed Martin
Not so fast, partner
It will, that is, if it wins the contract. There's just one problem with that: Boeing
Leaving aside the usual oddsmaking (but for the record, most analysts seem to favor Boeing), this sets up a, shall we say, "interesting" situation for both lead actors in this saga. Lockheed must now backtrack on its prior claims that the AgustaWestland whirlybird is the best plane for the job. Meanwhile, if Boeing wishes to woo the Pentagon with its favored aircraft (a cousin of the EH101 that won last round), it must hold hands with a European defense company as its partner.
Simultaneously, of course, Boeing is running 'round Congress, ringing a bell and shouting "Alarm!" about the risk of allowing a European defense company to bid against it and domestic partners Honeywell
In the end, I predict that the helicopter that won last time 'round (now on Boeing's team) will most likely win this time as well -- so long as Boeing keeps its bidding reasonable. But don't let knowing the winner ahead of time spoil your fun. This dance-off is going to be a blast.