How Boeing Got Gov't Business

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A few weeks back, Boeing was in the news because its CEO resigned after having an affair with a female executive. The irony was that Harry Stonecipher–sounds like the protagonist of a shitty '60s novel–had been brought in to clean up Boeing's image after, er, certain big-time ethical lapses in business practice.

To wit, this story in the Washington Times about how the Pentagon has taken away the Air Force's ability "to oversee 21 major [weapons] programs with a combined value of $200 billion," which mentions how Boeing actually swung government contracts:

It also comes in the wake of the Air Force's handling of a multibillion-dollar Boeing aircraft lease deal that collapsed last year and led to the conviction of former Air Force executive Darleen Druyun on charges of conspiring to violate conflict-of-interest rules.

Druyun admitted in court that she favored Boeing on deals worth billions of dollars because the company gave jobs to her daughter and son-in-law. Her admission led to a detailed Pentagon review of her nearly 10-year tenure as a key weapons buyer for the Air Force and prompted rival defense companies to file protests over Boeing contracts awarded during that period.

Whole thing here.

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  1. You’re going to make fun of Harry Stonecipher’s name and not even mention Peter Teets? Now that is a name.

  2. Whatever else procurement may be called, it isn’t a market. Boeing is almost the only game in town for military aircraft.

  3. What about Lockheed Martin or McDonnell-Douglas? Aren’t they still competitors for contracts?

  4. A defense contractor that pulled strings to get a contract?

    I’m shocked!

  5. BEEN DOWN SO LONG etc. is *not* shitty…!

  6. Next somebody will tell me that a public employee union isn’t interested in using tax dollars efficiently!

  7. ?I owe the government $3400 in taxes. So I sent them two hammers and a toilet seat.??Sue Murphy

  8. Don’t know about Lockheed, but Boeing bought McDonnell-Douglas

  9. Anon is quite correct–there are really only two significant military and airliner manufacturers left in the US–Boeing (which bought McDonnell Douglas several years ago) and Lockheed Martin (which only produces military aircraft). Internationally there is a third–Airbus, partly owned by European governments, and related in complex ways to EADS, the other major European military aircraft manufacturer (although SAAB still makes fighter planes, as do the old Russian companies Mikoyan-Gureyvich–MiG, and Sukhoi).
    It’s weird–Stonecipher was brought in not only to clean up Boeing’s moral stature (after the scandal involving Druyan and others), but also to bring the company back into the black. He succeeded, and now he’s out for having a consensual affair with a colleague.

  10. Lockheed got the F-22 contract, and they will follow its fortunes. Question: How superior was the Lockheed version to the McD one that would now be owned by Boeing?

  11. I … er, some people I know … used to work during at McD during that period. What I heard from a couple of not-very-well-connected-at-all persons was that pilot types thought the McD alternative, the F-23, was more advanced, stealthier, flew better, and (apparently this is more important to pilots than I would have suspected) looked cooler than Lockheed’s F-22.

    However, Lockheed really needed the work, and the Pentagon decided to give it to Lockheed lest they be left with McD as the only viable U.S. manufacturer of fighter aircraft. McD also had F-15 Eagles and F/A-18 Hornets to build and sell, so the loss would not have been the crushing blow it might have been to Lockheed.

    Again, this is just what I heard from people within the losing company who didn’t necessarily know what they were talking about — so take it with a grain of salt, as well as a couple of shots of sour grapejuice.

  12. “However, Lockheed really needed the work, and the Pentagon decided to give it to Lockheed lest they be left with McD as the only viable U.S. manufacturer of fighter aircraft. McD also had F-15 Eagles and F/A-18 Hornets to build and sell, so the loss would not have been the crushing blow it might have been to Lockheed.”

    This was the rumor I heard as well, that Lockheed needed to demonstrably underperform to lose it, precisely because the guvment didn’t want McD to rule the world of performance aircraft. What foresight our leaders have. I wish they planned the whole economy that way …

  13. First of all, sweetheart government deals? I’m with thoreau on this one: This is somehow news?

    Second, for a very depressing look, written by insiders, at how the Pentagon (or more accurately, the specific branches) games new defense contracts read the biography of LtC John Boyd, if you haven’t. It deals specifically with fighter aircraft, but touches on the B-1 and the Bradley as well. It is a bit biased toward the reform movement, so it may be somewhat hyberbolic.

    Finally, my man inside Lockheed told me that the F-22 pick had to do with Lockheed SWEARING TO ALMIGHTY GOD to lowball projected production figures on the final design in return for upcoming ballistic missile defense and submarine missile work.

    He’s pretty high up in the engineering food chain there so I tend to believe him, although I think the final F-22 figures don’t bear out any cost savings. As for performance: no engineers I know would ever speak harshly against a design from their own shop, so who can say?

  14. I know it’s a geeky thing to do, but I wanted to clarify the names of the fighters we’re talking about. The F-22 Raptor is unrelated to the recently chosen Joint Strike Fighter F-35, manufactured by Lockheed Martin. The unsuccessful Boeing entry was the X-32. The F-22 is actually just about to go into production (although there’s a fight going on about how many will actually be produced, and is a joint product of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The F-22 is an air superiority plane (what we used to call a fighter) while the F-35 is an all-purpose, V/STOL fighter/bomber (vertical/short take-off).

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