March 10, 2008

Arrogance and Complacency

Boeing, the heavy favorite to win the contract, having built earlier tankers, promised a new boom but did not build a prototype. One analyst who followed the contest said that Boeing, based in Chicago, seemed arrogant and offered a plan that Air Force officials thought would deliver only 19 tankers by 2013 compared with 49 by the Airbus team.

“The Boeing team was not responsive and often was not even polite,” said Loren B. Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va., based on conversations he said he had with defense officials. “Somehow that all eluded senior management,” Mr. Thompson said. “They were not even aware there was a problem.”