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Quality Tanker Decisions Take Time: Sue Payton, the Air Force’s acquisition chief, acknowledges the Air Force likely will not select a winning design for the next generation KC-X tanker until February. (It appears Senator Shelby's office had the right skinny after all.) This is yet another extension in the oft-delayed process, but one that is necessary, Payton said Tuesday, to ensure the process is as thorough as necessary. “The most recent estimate was for a January decision, but “I think we are looking more at the February time frame,” to select between the competing Boeing and Northrop Grumman/EADS proposals, she told reporters at a Pentagon meeting. “There is a price to be paid for openness and transparency,” in the competition, she added. Time is the price.