For the first time in a decade, the Air Force has opened up a rocket competition to launch the U.S. government's most sophisticated national security satellites. The Air Force released a request for proposal on Tuesday to companies that want to compete for a national security mission set to blast off in 2016.
There's a custom in Washington that U.S. defense contractors don't talk trash about their competitors, at least not in public. After fiercely competing for multibillion-dollar Pentagon contracts, the winner often placates the loser with a piece of the action. When Lockheed Martin was awarded the contract to build the F-22 fighter jet, it hired Northrop Grumman to build the plane's radar. Boeing won the contract to build the Air Force's KC-46 tanker plane and asked Northrop and Raytheon to contribute key components. Everyone ends up happy. It's how it’s always been done.