A few years ago, a friend of mine was having a beer with a very senior Air Force official, and asked what said official thought about the Boeing/Airbus tanker competition, which at that time was still out for bids. Paraphrasing the hearsay mightily, this was the response:
“The quickest thing would have just been to turn Boeing on for the 767 lease conversion contract. But McCain wants to be president, and he’s got a mad-on for Boeing, so he raised a stink. So they weren’t able to get the easy deal. It was their own fault; they got greedy and overpriced the bid (besides which, Boeing got caught cheating, and were really lucky that they got to bid at all).
“Now they’re probably going to lose to Airbus. What’ll happen after that is, everybody will freak out because an American company didn’t get the contract, and it’ll go back to selection, and this time Boeing will win. And all we’ll have accomplished is, it’ll be five or six years later, we still won’t have any new tankers yet, and it’ll cost a lot more.”
Judging by today’s news that Boeing succeeded in its protest over the Airbus team’s contract win, that prediction remains right on target.