The big question, in the wake of Boeing's win of the KC-X competition to supply the KC-46A to the U.S. Air Force, is whether losing bidder EADS will file a bid protest with the congressional Government Accountability Office. After all, Boeing did so successfully three years ago when the Northrop Grumman/EADS team won KC-X in a prior round.
Pentagon deputy secretary Bill Lynn acknowledges that EADS "has a right to protest," but he argues that this KC-X source-selection process was open and transparent and "will not yield grounds for a protest."
But will EADS agree?
A bigger issue than whether or not EADS feels wronged is possibly the still pending competition to eventually replace the KC-10s. The so-called KC-Y competition is not officially underway, but many see the Airbus A330 as a better fit to replace the KC-10 than the KC-135 being replaced now by the 767-based KC-46A.
What is more, EADS is trying to tread carefully in the U.S. market where it still is trying to secure a strong foothold.
But should the company really play the long game, in the hopes of big rewards down the road, or should it take a page from Boeing and fight KC-X to the bitter end?
For now, EADS will only say that "with a program of such complexity, our review of today's decision will take some time."