Tanker blog

My colleagues at Boeing’s Integrated Defense Systems (IDS) have launched a new blog, and I think it might be worth your while to check it out.

image

A depiction of the Boeing aerial refueling tanker in action.

Tanker Facts is a place to go to find out the latest news about the Boeing KC-767 Tanker and to get updates on the protest. I’ve added Tanker Facts to our “Boeing Links” section so you can keep in touch with the new blog in that way as well.

I’ve appreciated the many, many comments on the tanker that you’ve contributed, and you can continue the dialogue here or in the comments area of Tanker Facts.

Comments (7)

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

Boeing should continue to market the tanker based 767
to the United States Air Force, 179 KC-45 tankers is
far from enough aerial refuelers for the USAF as their are no plans to reduce the number fighters, bombers, electronics, and cargo aircraft in the Air Force's inventory.

While Boeing will not be able to produce all the tankers for the Air Force as it did since the introduction of the KC-97 Stratotanker, Boeing should not concede that the KC-767 will never be in the inventory of the USAF, action should be taken today along with the Tanker Facts web-site to convince the Air Force to buy the KC-767 before it is to late and orders more KC-45's.

While on the subject, Boeing should be in discussion with the United States Air Force to replace the E-3 Sentry and the E-8 Joint STARS with the 767 derivative for these planes.

John K (Eugene Oregon):

A radio news report mentioned that two new members of Senator John McCain’s campaign staff had previously been lobbyists for Airbus/EADS. Hopefully the GAO investigation will examine this claim. If true, this might explain the conduct of the Air Force in granting Airbus so many advantages in the tanker contest.

mickey (gold canyon, az):

It would be interesting for the GAO to compare EADS costs for this procurement to those just accepted for the UK new tankers: $26 B for 14 leased tankers. Might bring some new information to the cost risk assessment area for the EADS bid.

Ed (Ireland):

quoting:
''It would be interesting for the GAO to compare EADS costs for this procurement to those just accepted for the UK new tankers: $26 B for 14 leased tankers. Might bring some new information to the cost risk assessment area for the EADS bid.''

I agree, but the UK deal is a complicated one because there is a company called Air Tanker Ltd, which is acting as the middle man. I thing the Australian A330MRTT could be a more useful cost comparison as it is well into the lfight testing stage.

I also think that the Japanese and Italian KC767s would provide useful information as you suggest, but I dont think they would make the Boeing offer look very good (on terms of cost and risk) after the delays the programme has gone through.

For the record, the USAF are not allowed to consider the above programmes in the KC-X process.

Chris (Hannibal, NY):

At the very least, let's look at it from a national defense viewpoint. My understanding is that Airbus is a French, German & Spanish consortium. France in particular hasn't been very supportive of the US. Germany hasn't been much better.

Three points:
1. If we are involved in a conflict that France/Germany/Spain doesn't support, will we suddenly have difficulty getting parts in an expedient manner? There is a ton of software in all planes today. I would be concerned about that and other issues with planes not built in the US.

2. Being a foreign entity, do we have any legal recourse with them. Many U.S. companies have had fines levied against them. Can we levie fines or other actions against them?

3. We often hear grumblings about this widget is being manufactured in China(or where ever). I always say "Fine, let them build our widgets. I want to know that the plane that I am on was built[and other critical items] in the United States."

Walter Quinlan (LA):

I have been in the aerospace for 35 years and have been working for Airbus for 18 years located in the US and I’m US born and raised. We from Airbus purchase 5 Billion a year in the US such as engines, flight systems, landing gear, structure for the wing, APU, PSU, inters, and the Boeing, aircraft are manufactured in Japan and china with final assembly in Seattle.

If you think you get a US aircraft when you buy Boeing this is incorrect however Airbus is moving more and more to US Dollar zone and Boeing do not want any other competition on US soil such as an Airbus assembly site located in mobile.

They drove out Douglass aircraft and Lockheed so what is the competition?

Tom F. (Edwardsville, Illinois):

I was not shocked when EADS/NGC won the last tanker bid. The Air Force was continuously changing the requirements whenever NGC threatened to drop out. The competition was ultimately skewed in favor of a larger plane.

Boeing was justified in feeling misled and betrayed. An unfortunate aspect of this so-called “competition” is that unless the requirements are tailored to fit an A330-sized aircraft, Boeing wins.

We mustn’t forget that this contract was meant to replace the KC-135, a midsize, medium range tanker. Morphing this program into a replacement for a larger, longer-range KC-10 replacement doesn’t make sense, either logistically or cost-wise. Unfortunately for EADS/NGC, the Air Force has gone back to the basic requirements for this program. EADS hasn’t got a product that can perform the mission at the lowest possible cost.

To quote Airbus head, Thomas Enders, “The current bid is clearly tailored to the smaller and less capable refueller of the competition. The conclusion is clear: This is not about the best tanker and also not about a fair competition.”

This statement is not entirely fair. Certainly the C-130 is smaller and less capable than the C-17. It also costs about a third as much. The bottom line is how much capability you need, and how much do you want to pay for it.

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