Air Force misaddresses letters to Boeing and EADS in a Shakespearean Comedy of Errors

Boeing KC-767 Tanker

In the latest drama in the Boeing vs. EADS $35 billion-dollar tanker contest, the U.S. Air Force admitted on Friday that it inadvertently sent the wrong letters to rival planemakers, delivering its technical assessment of Boeing’s bid to EADS, and vice versa. This comedy of errors is not unlike Shakespeare’s tale of Love’s Labour’s Lost, where a comedic character couriers two love letters, from two different men. Shakespeare’s plot undoubtedly gets mixed up when a love letter intended for a country girl is delivered to the Princess of France, and a love letter intended for a courtly lady is delivered to the poor country girl.

“Earlier this month, there was a clerical error that resulted in limited amounts of identical source-selection information being provided to both KC-X offerors concerning their competitor’s offer,” Air Force spokesman Col. Les Kodlick said Nov. 20. “Both offerors immediately recognized the error and contacted the Air Force contracting officers.”

O, thy letter, thy letter! he’s a good friend of mine:
Stand aside, good bearer. Boyet, you can carve;
Break up this capon.

I am bound to serve.
This letter is mistook, it importeth none here;
It is writ to Jaquenetta.

We will read it, I swear.
Break the neck of the wax, and every one give ear.


What plume of feathers is he that indited this letter?
What vane? what weathercock? did you ever hear better?

I am much deceived but I remember the style.

Else your memory is bad, going o’er it erewhile.

- William Shakespeare from Love’s Labour’s Lost

“The KC-X source selection will continue. This incident will not impact our schedule for source selection,” Kodlick said. “However, certain aspects of the source selection have taken slightly longer than originally anticipated, and we currently expect the award to occur early next year.”

The Air Force’s decision will have a large impact on the local economy, considering that the Boeing tankers will be Everett-built.

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