DoD/USAF to announce KC-X contractor 29 FEB 08 1700EST


Place your bets… 8)


$2 on Boeing to win.


I would be wagering much more that that…


I would expect EADS to have very competitive pricing.


That will keep Boeing honest.


Ah crap! They’re reporting Northrup won. That’s a short term strategy. It really means that USAF won’t be seeing new tankers for a longgggggggggggg time. This is the start of a new battle that will take forever to conclude.


Northrup and Airbus according to CNBC.


Let the record show that wazzu90 has thrown $2 into the kitty. This will roll over to the pool for when the cost overruns exceed the original value of the contract.


Let’s use the $2 for the cost overrun because we know it won’t be more than $2 or $3. Yea, and have I got a slightly used bridge in San Francisco to sell you!


FlightGlobal News report


Amazing. So, I’m guessing the aircraft will be built in Europe and the refueling equip will be added in the US by Northop. Goodbye more American jobs.


I’d venture to say that the value added by Northrop-Grumman is greater than that of Airbus.


[quote=“Flight Global News Report”]Airbus will build the A330-200 sections in Europe and ship the components to the US. A new factory in Mobile, Alabama will perform final assembly before moving to a nearby Northrop facility to install mission equipment.

EADS also plans to manufacture the CASA-designed refuelling boom for the KC-45 in Bridgeport, West Virginia.

Some jobs lost in Seattle for some other jobs created elsewhere in the US. How many? God knows.

Now that the military decision process and the economic aspects of the project have been evaluated and a selection made by experts in the field, let’s see what will be the move of the other “experts” (AKA the politicians).


The Airbus A330 MRTT, as the KC-30 was chosen over the Boeing KC-767, which is a smaller aircraft and holds about 20 percent less fuel. The KC-30 can carry approximately 37 percent more cargo by volume or passengers than the KC-767 can. The Boeing 767-200ER is considered a $120 million airplane, and the Airbus A330-200 is considered a $160 million airplane.


The House of Representatives panel that oversees defense spending is wading into a growing debate about the Air Force selection of Northrop Grumman and European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co., or EADS, to build 179 new refueling tankers over the next two decades.

The defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday to look into the Air Forces decision to award the $40 billion contract to a coalition that includes a European defense company rather than U.S.-based Boeing.

The decision, announced Friday, has drawn protests from some lawmakers and labor unions who argue the contract is bad for American workers and national security. The Wednesday hearing was called by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., chairman of the defense subcommittee.

The purpose of the hearing is to have the Air Force explain their decision on the tanker aircraft, as well as to address congressional concerns, Murtha spokesman Matthew Mazonkey said in an e-mail.

Sue Payton, Air Force acquisition executive, and Lt. Gen. John Hudson, program executive officer in charge of Air Force aircraft acquisition, are scheduled to testify before the subcommittee.

The Air Force chose the Northrop/EADS entry, a modified Airbus 330, rather than the Boeing entry, based on its 767, primarily because it can offload more fuel and carry more passengers and cargo, according to Air Force officials.

By Erik Holmes - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Mar 4, 2008 15:52:26 EST … ng_030408/


Someone made a remark that makes a lot of sense. The Air Force has had the KC-135 for 50 years, just like the B-52. Both of these are Boeing products. I wonder if Airbus products will or can be still flying in 50 years?


Quite possibly. The mainstay of the UK’s maritime patrol squadrons is the Hawker-Siddely Nimrod, which is a direct descendant of the Comet, the first commercial jet airliner. The Stratotanker fleet, just like the Nimrod and Stratofortress fleets, has benefited from numerous upgrades and rebuilds over the years. With proper planning, maintenance and overhaul programs in place, there’s no reason to presume that any modern (Western) commercial aircraft or derivative could not see 50+ year lifespans. This is especially true when modern design, analysis, construction and materials are considered.


WASHINGTON During a contentious hearing Wednesday over the Air Force tanker deal awarded to Airbus parent EADS and Northrop Grumman, Rep. Norm Dicks said the Pentagon changed contract specifications to favor that team’s bid over Boeing’s so they wouldn’t drop out of the contest.

Waving documents, the Bremerton Democrat asked Air Force acquisitions director Sue Payton whether she had made changes “at the last minute” to the air-lift standards in the Request for Proposal (RFP) after the bidding process started Jan. 30, 2007 for the $40 billion contract.

"I urge you not to say ‘No,’ " Dicks said, adding, “I have the letter. You did it.”

Payton, the main witness before the House Appropriations Committee, said any alterations to the criteria were not changes to the “requirements” in the RFP after it was formally issued.

Committee Chairman Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said he is considering legislation to hold up the tanker contract while members review it for bias toward France-based Airbus and for its impact on the U.S. economy and unemployment.

“All this committee has to do is stop the funding for the program,” Murtha said.

Letters between Boeing and the Air Force dated March 2007 indicate the Pentagon raised the strength levels of the takeoff ramps for the tankers and shortened the amount of wing space needed between planes while they are parked.

This gave Airbus, with a heavier and wider aircraft, a better chance in the competition, Dicks said.

Boeing “strenuously objected” to the changes, he said. The company both wrote and called the Pentagon to complain.

Dicks said Boeing was told by the Air Force the revisions were necessary to keep the other team in the bidding and avoid a sole-source contract.

On one of the documents Dicks waved was a handwritten note from a Boeing employee, made after an unsuccessful appeal in a phone conversation with the Air Force. The note read: “This change was made to keep NG [Northrop Grumman] in the competition.”

Payton declined to comment specifically on those documents.

She said there was no favoritism and repeated several times she had followed the law carefully in the bidding process.

"Northrop Grumman brought their ‘A Game,’ " to the competition, said Payton.

That remark provoked a Republican on the panel to complain Payton was avoiding mentioning Airbus or its European parent.

“Northrop’s a front,” said Rep. Dave Hobson, R-Ohio.

Republicans and Democrats questioned the choice of the Airbus larger airframe, the A 330.

Dicks called the size issue “most damning of all,” adding that the Pentagon had pulled a “bait and switch” in telling Boeing that it wanted a medium-size tanker, such as the 767.

“Had Boeing known that the Air Force wanted more, it would have bid the 777,” he said.

Boeing defense chief Jim Albaugh made that same point at an investor conference in New York.

“If they had wanted a big airplane, obviously we could offer the 777,” Albaugh said, “and we were discouraged from offering the 777.”

Murtha and Dicks alluded a few times to an unnamed member of the Senate, who put “tremendous pressure,” on the Pentagon to accommodate Airbus, according to Murtha.

They were speaking of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who brought down the last tanker contract, in 2004. McCain contacted the Pentagon in 2006 about the RFP draft, which Dicks said helped Airbus.

McCain said this week his only goal was an open competition.

Several committee members, including Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., raised worries about the loss of jobs to Europe and the refusal of the Air Force to consider European governments’ subsidies to EADS.

Hobson said “we have a different duty sometimes” in Congress to protect America’s industrial base and longterm manufacturing capability.

Payton said none of those issues could legally be included in contract deliberations.

Tiahrt prodded Payton about whether she applied the “Buy American” Act to the contract. She said she did, adding that the legislation allows the U.S. to treat firms based in NATO countries as U.S.-based companies.

Whether Murtha has enough votes to delay the program by stopping the funding remains to be seen.

After the hearing, Northrop Grumman issued a lengthy, irate statement objecting to what it called “inaccurate comments” by members of the House panel.

It said the contract with Airbus will “create a new aerospace manufacturing corridor in the southeastern U.S.,” and return competitiveness to the industry.

Large sections of the tanker will be built in Europe, then shipped across the Atlantic for assembly in Mobile, Ala., which will gain some 1,500 direct jobs.

The Air Force will debrief Boeing on the details about its losing bid Friday.

At Wednesday’s investment conference, Albaugh said Boeing will wait for that meeting before deciding whether or not to formally protest the tanker award.

Payton and her team also plan to meet soon with committee members behind closed doors.

By Alicia Mundy

Seattle Times Washington bureau


(this is an edited version of the one appearing in the N.Y. Times)

WASHINGTON Just hours before the Air Force announced the winner of a $35 billion contract to build aerial refueling aircraft on Feb. 29, an Airbus plane lumbered off the runway in Getafe, Spain, and climbed to 27,000 feet to rendezvous with a Portuguese F-16 fighter.

Then, in the skies south of Madrid, the two aircraft edged closer andcloser, until they were joined by a 50-foot boom hanging off the back of the big Airbus plane. For the first time, the boom pumped fuel into another plane, 2,000 gallons in all during several connections.

The technology to pass fuel from one plane to another may not be rocket science in fact, aerial fuel booms have been in use for more than 50 years but it helped Airbuss parent and its partner, Northrop Grumman, establish their technical bona fides.

Eager to enter the American defense market, the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company, the owner of Airbus, made several bold plays, perhaps none more dramatic than building the $100 million state-of-the-art refueling boom on spec.

As a result, Boeing, the pride of American aerospace, was outmaneuvered on its home turf for a contract that could grow to $100 billion, becoming one of the largest military purchases in history.

One analyst who followed the contest said that Boeing, based in Chicago, seemed arrogant and offered a plan that Air Force officials thought would deliver only 19 tankers by 2013 compared with 49 by the Airbus team.

The Boeing team was not responsive and often was not even polite, said Loren B. Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va., based on conversations he said he had with defense officials. Somehow that all eluded senior management, Mr. Thompson said. They were not even aware there was a problem.

Defense industry analysts, however, say that the Airbus deal in many ways does make sense and that fears of lost military secrets are misplaced.

The Airbus and Boeing aircraft are both global products Boeing has said roughly 85 percent of its tanker components would be American-made, the Airbus group about 60 percent making the impact on jobs unclear.

Boeing said its bid would create or support 44,000 American jobs. The Airbus teams figure was 25,000 jobs in 49 states. Both numbers are impossible to verify. Industry analysts point out that, employment claims aside, the manufacturers have a profit motive in building the planes with as few workers as possible.

In fact, no layoffs are expected at the Boeing plant in Everett, Wash., where the 767 is assembled, as a result of losing the contract. On the contrary, the company is hiring workers because of a $255 billion backlog for jetliners. Airbus, too, has a huge backlog.

With the award to the Airbus group, Mr. Kutler, the defense company investor, said: The Defense Department is sending a message: on major contracts, dont be assuming we have no other options. Its a global marketplace.

Another crucial question is how such big contracts will be awarded in the future given the indications that many American officials seem to favor competition, but only if American companies win.

If Cessna wants to start building bigger airplanes, I am happy to see that happen, said Senator Murray, of Washington. I dont disagree with the concept of more competition, but there is a second bigger question and that is military capability and losing military capability.

Experts warned that excluding foreign competitors could prompt other countries to take similar steps against American defense manufacturers and that choosing inferior domestic products would only put military service members at risk. That tendency, acted on in other countries, has already created what one analyst, Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group, called a hideous mix of higher costs and reduced combat effectiveness.

Boeing and its allies in Congress have raised a number of objections that they say could justify reversing the Air Force decision, including whether the bid evaluators properly considered subsidies that Airbus may receive from European governments, or even the fact that Boeing pays higher health care costs because much of Europe has national health insurance.

The Air Force, meanwhile, insists that it chose the better plane.

Ms. Payton also disagreed with assertions that the Air Force had tipped the scales for Airbus. She said officials had carefully followed procurement rules and an array of laws, including the Buy American Act, which she noted calls for certain countries, including Western European allies, to be treated as if they were the United States.

You said we want a fair and open competition under the laws, she told the panel. I complied with those laws.

General Electric is to make the engines and Northrop Grumman expects to hire hundreds of engineers in Melbourne for the Airbus groups tanker, which will be assembled in Mobile, Ala.

The victory on the Air Force contract could mark the arrival of Airbus as a major builder of tankers after decades of dominance by Boeing, which manufactured the only widely used boom.

The Boeing spokesman, Mr. Barksdale, said his company could easily pull together the new boom it promised the Air Force. Its not a huge leap of technology, he said. It would not be a huge deal.

But to Northrop Grumman and EADS, building the boom on spec presented a chance to demonstrate their competitive hunger.

They had to start from scratch, said Tim Gann, a retired Air Force tanker pilot and group commander who now works for the Airbus group, EADS North America. Up until we developed our boom, only Boeing had a boom. Boeing wasnt going to sell us the boom.

March 10, 2008
In Tanker Bid, It Was Boeing vs. Bold Ideas


Thanks for posting the article, gretnabear. I thought I saw photos of Airbus demonstrating a flying boom several years ago. Maybe all they’ve had up to now has been drogue baskets. Although, the USAF is really the only user of the flying boom-and-receptacle, isn’t it? I can’t think of any non-US jet that isn’t probe-and-drogue.