(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) released the following statement after Dr. Loren Thompson, Chief Operating Officer of the Lexington Institute and a leading Defense contracting expert, published a series of outstanding questions he feels the Air Force must answer about their decision to outsource a $35 billion aerial refueling contract to Airbus. Mr. Thompson initially hailed the Air Force selection process, but as his recent article reveals, he has since joined Murray in raising serious questions regarding how the Air Force made their decision. 

In Senate hearings since the Air Force's decision was announced in February, Senator Murray has asked Pentagon officials including the Pentagon's Comptroller, military construction officials, and Defense Secretary Gates for answers on concerns related to cost overruns, diminished capability, the safety of the Airbus plane, national security implications and job losses. Murray has received very little or no feedback from Pentagon officials to her questions. 

"The more I find out about this contract, the more concerned I am about how it was awarded.  While early reports attempted to validate this decision, it has becoming increasingly clear to the American people that the Defense Department did not award this contract fairly or transparently and they cannot justify what they have done. 

“When I’ve asked why the Defense Department would ask Congress to pay for a tanker that is more expensive, less efficient, and less safe no one can give a straight answer.  And when Dr. Thompson asks his friends in the DOD to provide a sound basis for awarding this contract on key issues like cost, risk, and past performance, it seems they can’t offer him an answer either.

“Congress and the American taxpayer need to know how and why the Department of Defense reached its decision to award this contract to Airbus.  And we need those answers now.”