Boeing (BA.N) was reportedly eliminated from the tender for the United States Air Force which was seeking a successor to the E-4B Nightwatch aircraft, which was nicknamed the ‘doomsday plane’ because it was said to be capable of surviving a nuclear war. The airline company was reportedly eliminated due to contract issues.
On Friday (1/12/2023), Boeing reportedly failed to advance to the next stage of the competition. This left private defense contractor Sierra Nevada Corp. the only company openly competing for the Survivable Airborne Operations Center (SAOC) contract. SOAC is a program to replace the US air fleet that has been in use since the 1970s.
The US Air Force is also said to be offering SAOC contacts in 2024. However, they refused to comment on whether other companies have also submitted offers.
“We cannot discuss the selection of active sources and detailed program information is classified,” an Air Force spokesman told Reuters, quoted Saturday (2/12/2023).
Two sources familiar with the matter also explained that as the company that manufactures the E-4B Nightwatch, Boeing was unable to reach an agreement with the US Air Force regarding data rights and contracts. The US aircraft manufacturer refused to sign a fixed-price aircraft development agreement that required Boeing to pay costs above the agreed limit.
“We remain confident that our SAOC approach is the most comprehensive, technically mature and lowest risk solution for customers and Boeing,” continued Boeing.
This year, Boeing’s defense unit is known to have lost US$ 1.3 billion or Rp. 20 trillion (exchange rate Rp. 15,433) due to the fixed-price aircraft development program which includes NASA’s Starliner aircraft and the US presidential aircraft, namely Air Force One.
Since 2014, Boeing has lost a total of US$ 16.3 billion or Rp. 251 trillion due to fixed-price development programs. Boeing leaders have sought to prove to investors that the company is still seeking more favorable contract terms in future deals with the United States Department of Defense.
“Rest assured, we have not signed a fixed-price development contract nor do we intend to do so,” Boeing Chief Financial Officer Brian West said in October.
For information, the Air Force is said to plan to spend a total of US$ 889 million or Rp. 13 trillion in the 2024 fiscal year to continue the development of SOAC and US$ 8.3 billion or Rp. 128 trillion to continue the program until the 2028 fiscal year.
The E-4B Nightwatch aircraft itself is an aircraft usually used by the US Secretary of Defense. The aircraft was designed as a mobile command post capable of withstanding nuclear explosions and electromagnetic effects so that US leaders could convey military orders in the event of a national emergency.
The US Air Force itself currently operates four E-4B Nightwatch aircraft. One aircraft is said to be on standby at all times. The E-4B Nightwatch is a Boeing 747-200 Jumbo Jet aircraft that has been modified since the 1970s. Maintenance of the aircraft is currently increasingly difficult and expensive due to outdated spare parts. As a result, the aircraft’s useful life is predicted to end in early 2030.
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