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Countdown: With anticipation already growing within the Beltway, and outside of it, a senior Air Force official told lawmakers yesterday that the announcement of the winner in the multi-billion-dollar KC-X tanker recapitalization contest might indeed come in February. “It will be hopefully the end of this month,” Kenneth Miller, special assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition Governance and Transparency, told the Senate Tanker Caucus on Feb. 14. USAF officials have said February is the anticipated timeframe of the announcement, but that the service would take more time, if necessary, to complete the thorough evaluation of the Boeing KC-767 and Northrop Grumman/EADS KC-30 bids before deciding. Miller said the OSD-led Defense Acquisition Board is on track to convene on Feb. 25 to decide whether to grant the Air Force the permission to move the KC-X program forward and divulge the winner. “If the DAB is on the 25th, before we go into the DAB, the Air Force and the selection officials will have made their selection,” Miller said. The Air Force must then await the receipt of the acquisition decision memorandum, the formal document resulting from the DAB that would authorize the service to proceed with contract award for the system development and demonstration phase and the options on the first four production aircraft, he said. The Air Force intends to pronounce the winner publicly on the day that it receives the ADM, Miller said. “Close of business that day is when we will go out with formal notification,” he said.