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Standing Firm: The Office of the Secretary of Defense is essentially saying “too bad” to Northrop Grumman over the company's announcement that it won’t submit a bid against Boeing to supply USAF's KC-X tanker unless notable changes are made to the aircraft's draft solicitation. As we reported yesterday, Northrop President Wes Bush conveyed this position to Pentagon acquisition executive Ashton Carter in a Dec. 1 letter. Cheryl Irwin, Carter's spokeswoman, said Wednesday in a statement that OSD “regrets" Northrop's move and hopes that its industry team "will return" to the contest when the final request for proposals is issued (see below). She said the Pentagon “cannot and will not change" the tanker's requirements "to give advantage to either competitor.” OSD, she noted, has “played this right down the middle and will continue to do so.” While OSD wants competition, it "cannot compel" a prospective offeror to compete, she said.