Or maybe we just won’t buy that tanker…

The Obama administration may actually dodge a battle over that Air Force refueling tanker controversy that former Undersecretary of Defense Jacques Gansler weighed in on for FP by simply not buying it at all. Of course, this is going to set off an even bigger battle with congress. CQ‘s Josh Rogin reports: The White House ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.

The Obama administration may actually dodge a battle over that Air Force refueling tanker controversy that former Undersecretary of Defense Jacques Gansler weighed in on for FP by simply not buying it at all. Of course, this is going to set off an even bigger battle with congress. CQ's Josh Rogin reports:

The Obama administration may actually dodge a battle over that Air Force refueling tanker controversy that former Undersecretary of Defense Jacques Gansler weighed in on for FP by simply not buying it at all. Of course, this is going to set off an even bigger battle with congress. CQ‘s Josh Rogin reports:

The White House has given the Pentagon guidance to delay procurement of aerial refueling tankers by five years and cancel plans for a new long-range bomber, according to three sources close to the discussions. […]

If OMB’s recommendations are enacted, the largest battle in Congress will be over the Air Force’s contract for a new fleet of midair refueling tankers, which the Pentagon delayed last September following a protest backed by the Government Accountability Office.

The competition, which ultimately will be worth as much as $100 billion, has pitted Boeing Co. against a consortium of Northrop Grumman Corp. and the North American arm of the European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co.

Lawmakers from states representing both companies reacted with dismay to the prospect that the tanker competition could be delayed again, especially for five years.

Sen. Jeff Sessions , R-Ala., said Congress would fight back against a delay in the tanker contract if it is submitted in the formal budget request. The Northrop Grumman contender for the contract would be assembled largely in his state.

“For a group who has been in the OMB for just a matter of weeks to come in and suggest the cancellation of the No. 1 Air Force priority for procurement is stunning, and I don’t think Congress will accept that,” Sessions said.

Sen. Sam Brownback , R-Kan., whose state would benefit if Boeing won the contract, called the OMB guidance “deeply disturbing

I’m not enough of an expert to know how much the Air Force actually needs this tanker (and they seem pretty unlikely to give a straight answer on budget questions) but I do wish the U.S. had a procurement strategy aimed at getting the military the best equipment for the best price rather than getting congressmen reelected.

(Hat tip: Danger Room)

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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