After a decade of embarrassing missteps and disputes, the Pentagon handed a job-rich $35-billion contract to Chicago-based Boeing Co. to build a fleet of 179 aerial refueling tankers that carries the promise of work for an estimated 50,000 aerospace employees.
In an announcement that took industry experts by surprise, word came down late Thursday that Boeing had bested archrival Airbus and its parent company European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co., or EADS.
The fight between Boeing and EADS was bitter and hard fought. The lucrative tanker contract is believed to be the last new major Pentagon purchase for years to come.
"Boeing was the clear winner," said William J. Lynn, deputy secretary of Defense, in making the announcement. "We went through a process that evaluated war-fighting requirements, evaluated price, evaluated life-cycle costs. And the process yielded the result it did with Boeing winning."
The question on everybodys mind is will EADS appeal the decision.
Source: Los Angeles Times
Gravity always wins!
You are correct about the origin of the Harrier but I think you missed the larger point. Some have commented that the US rigged the tanker competition and never had any intention of buying a "foreign" design. The previous poster was pointing out several examples including the Harrier where the US has indeed purchased "foreign" designs to fit US military requirements.
The Harrier is a great aircraft by the way. I truly hope that the F-35B actually goes into production as it's successor.
a fantastic selective answer - i do wish people would actually do some research into FACTS before posting - the 767 is the equal of the A330 - oh dear did you actually write that down for people to see ??. The 767 has been battered into non existence in the civil market by the A330 as it just cant and doesnt match up. It is an old technology aircraft. The wing design is to say the least Basic. The KC46 will have a shiny new digital cockpit based on the 787 (lets not even go there on that one). Yes the KC46 will be able to operate from smaller runways, yes it will have less of a footprint - but if you want to start throwing costs n - how about whole new engine facilities, the KC45 was offering the engines hat USAF use today on the upgraded KC135 - the KC46 is a different engine
Just admit that the decision was based on political biase towards the Americans - we dont mind, honestly (we the Europeans) - its the feeble excuses that annoy us
Hunter - maybe that was the intention - not the way it comes across
yes the view in europe is that it was a political decision - and we can accept that if people say it that way. it is when it is wrapped up in ome other excuse that winds people up
I don't understand the last point - it is just WRONG. The KC-135 uses 4 CFM-56 engines (military designation - F108-CF-100 turbofans of about 22,000 lb. thrust). The KC-46A proposal offered two GE or P&W engines (Pratt & Whitney PW4000 or GE CF6-80C2 engines of about 62,100 lb thrust).
Sure, the A-330 is bigger and offers more range (neither of which is needed in this role - the USAF originally just wanted a plane a little larger than the KC-135), but that does not mean the 767 is dead. For airline use, the greater capacity and range is of value. For refueling use, it is imperative that the tanker use all existing possible airfields that he current KC-135 now uses. The EADS KC-45A could not and the AF's model had to allow them to use other bases (which they did not let Boeing use in the simulations).
Just being bigger and more expensive to operate and not being able to use existing facilities is NOT an advantage, especially if YOU are the one paying for it (as a taxpayer).
Smudge, I hope you would agree that the USAF has the right to determine the criteria for the products they wish to purchase. In the tanker case, the USAF RFP emphasized costs while at least meeting 372 mandatory requirements the jist of which was to meet the performance of the KC135 that is being replaced. If the RFP had emphasized the greatest possible fuel offload, cargo and personnel capacity Boeing would have submitted a bid based not on the 767 but on the FAR larger 777. The KC777 was actually investigated and would have surpassed the KC45 by 30-50% in EVERY category. Ultimately, it is the customer who gets to decide what they want and it's up to the contractors to meet those requirements with the lowest costs.
An analogy that Europe might understand is cargo aircraft. I don't believe anyone would say the A400M can outperform the C-17 in load or range but the European governments decided to they wanted a capability between a C-130 and a C-17. So they are developing that aircraft instead of purchasing an existing aircraft which has greater performance.
The US is behaving like the Russians in the cold war era, everything is invented in the US and they have no time to mention that the Goshawk is a BAE Hawk or that the AV8B is the old Kestrel.
There are lots of other examples out there where the US stays mum on the origin issues and I have never heard them mention the European heritage of those aircraft, not even the EADS CASA HC-144.
We have seen the US through history conning other countries to give up very advanced fighter projects because they were superior to anything the US had. The British Aircraft Corporation TSR-2 and the Canadian Avro Arrow are two good examples.
As for the tanker contract have anybody heard if Airbus is appealing the decision?
BTW, I am Canadian and can almost look at Boeings empire in Seattle through my binoculars. That is why I am 30% biased towards the Boeing Tanker.
A lot of the responses in this thread are quite biased. This really surprised me. I was hoping folks had follwoed this tanker compitition and been more aware of what had been goin on these past few years. To say congress had their hand in this is also absurb. To say that the U.S. won't buy a foreign product is absurd (especially when the majority of aviation programs awarded the past 10 years have been foreign - Coast Guard bought a foreign platform...Army bought a foreign platform...The Presidential Helicopter was awarded to a foreign platform (OK so it was canceled but that was due to requirements creep an not the product)...the Army/USAF bought a foreign cargo aircraft...and there is one more I believe but it escapes me at the moment. Look, the Airbus 330 is a great platform for the target it was designed for. The target the 767 was designed for no longer exists. Being a newer design for a different target, the 330 sold better than the 767. Being a former USAF Officer that worked with tankers, I never thought the 330 was a great choice based on how the USAF uses its tankers. Please read again - based on how the USAF uses its tankers. There is a big difference, for example, on how the Australian AF operates and how the USAF operates. For Australia, 330 is the right choice and the 767 would be stupid to purchase. However, for the USAF, I honestly believe the 767 is the better choice - based on how the USAF operates. Now if the USAF wanted to replace the capability of the KC-10, the 767 would be the wrong choice and the larger 330 would make more sense. The USAF rarely operates the -135 tanker as a cargo platform, so the larger cargo capacity of the 330 is not really that important. ALso 75% of the current infrastrure will support the 767 but that isn't the case with the 330. This would be a significant cost for the USAF if the 330 were selected. As for size, if we were to replace each aircraft at my last base, 1-for-1 with a 330, there would be space issues. I'm not so sure it could be done. But I ramble too much. The key is that all of us would need to see the bids oeing and Airbus made and compare that ourselves to the requirements.
The BAC TSR-2 was indeed a remarkable aircraft - well advanced of anything in its time. It was, however, a British government decision to cancel it; the US government did not have anything to do with the decision. The Brits were offered the F-111 and the British government accepted it believing that this would be the less expensive alternative.
As for an Airbus appeal or protest, I have not heard anything. They might have not grounds for a protest since the aircraft was deeded to meet all criteria (as was the Boeing plane). EADS lost out on cost; I do not know what their final bid price was, but the 40+ years operating costs (principally fuel) and the infrastructure (new hangers and runways and taxiways) make them too expensive t afford - especially in an era of austerity.
Remember too that KC-135's often return to base with un-transferred fuel in their tanks, so the larger fuel capacity of the KC-330 was of little advantage. Also, the KC-330 could not operate form a number of existing airfields that the Boeing KC-767 can.
It will be interesting to see if Airbus challenges the award and on what grounds. Please understand that the Senators and Representatives from Alabama are just as “powerful” as those from the State of Washington, so don’t overestimate Washington State’s influence. The silence from Senator Shelby (Alabama) and the rest of the Alabama delegation indicate that they know the award did not discriminate.
You hit it right on, from now on any posts should be comparisons of the two aircraft against the requirements, no conspiracy theories, no speculation on political interference etc.etc.etc.
Flyvertosset wrote "The US is behaving like the Russians in the cold war era, everything is invented in the US and they have no time to mention that the Goshawk is a BAE Hawk or that the AV8B is the old Kestrel.
We have seen the US through history conning other countries to give up very advanced fighter projects because they were superior to anything the US had. The British Aircraft Corporation TSR-2 and the Canadian Avro Arrow are two good examples."
You're leaving off several important points in your assertion about US behavior - 1. The US is actually paying either a licensing fee or purchasing outright the products you mentioned(The Russians never did) 2. The projects you mentioned especially the Arrow never came close to finishing development and that is both VERY expensive and uncertain(ex. Typhoon, F-22, F-35). I would gladly compare the actual performance of several US designs to the cancelled projects you mentioned(F-4 Phantom, F-105 Thunderchief) 3. The US does in fact purchase equipment NIH(not invented here).
I hearby offer an apology from the US to anyone who feels they're not getting credit for their work after they've been paid for it.
"All modern aircraft have four dimensions: span, length, height and politics. TSR-2 simply got the first three right. ”
— Sir Sydney Camm
As for the Canadian Avro Arrow a lot of people accuse the Americans of deliberately sabotaging the Arrow program. In fact, this assertion has evolved into a full-blown conspiracy theory, given widespread exposure north of the border by a two-part TV movie released in 1996 by the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) on the development of the Arrow, starring Dan Ackroyd. The movie apparently features scenes such as one where US President Eisenhower pressures Prime Minister Diefenbaker to cancel the Arrow and "buy American". The movie was labeled as a "work of fiction" and had elements that were clearly inventions of scriptwriters, but it apparently did much to convince people that the conspiracy theory is an indisputable fact.
In reality, this conspiracy theory, like all good conspiracy theories, is long on emotions, contrived arguments, and convictions, but short on hard evidence. Conspiracy theorists claim the US defense secretary told his Canadian counterpart that Canada would be better off to drop the Arrow and purchase US hardware, while one Diefenbaker cabinet member much later insisted that the US was highly supportive of the program, calling the conspiracy theory "nonsense".
A sidestep from the harsh realities of the current tanker contract.
I saw the movie you're talking about and actually enjoyed it. I think the movie was accurate about one of the critical mistakes Avro made - developing their own engine. It was also a program that severely stretched the resources available.
I forgot to reply to your points about US behavior. My point was that because the US never mentions the heritage of a NIH aircraft, it does not mean they do not pay their dues such as licensing fees. If that absolves them from mentioning that the aircraft in question is a NIH, then I got to agree with you and I do not need an apology.
As for the comparison between the projects cancelled and the F-4, F-105 they and a few other problably came close or exceeded the performance of the Arrow and the TSR-2. An interesting comparison would be between the TSR-2 and the F-111 which the British purchased instead (NIIUK).
The British actually ended up purchasing F-4's using RR Spey Engines. Australia is the only other country that purchased the F-111.
As for the origin of aircraft, very few people outside of those who visit these types of forums even care about those issues. The tanker project would be an exception only because of the on-going dispute regarding subsidies.
Please keep in mind that the US does not produce aircraft for export as a primary consideration; the US defense market is sufficiently large for its own use. A smaller nation whose requirement might be for 75-100 fighters or bombers, can probably not afford a full design, development, test and manufacturing program on their own (exception Sweden); hence a consortium to keep production spread over a larger buy. The US will frequently buy very large numbers and thus can define a need that meets its requirements and then build it. Certainly, the US welcomes foreign sales, as it spreads the design and development costs over an even larger base. In the case of the tanker (KC-46A), the initial buy of 179 aircraft probably exceeds the entire Western world's cumulative purchase, .... and the US will probably eventually buy 500 of them.
If a US designed aircraft does not meet another nation's need, they should not buy it.
One other thing I'd like to mention. I understand that even if the EADS entry had been selected, it would have required re-design to meet the long-specified USAF requirement. It is not an off-the-shelf product, even though it is being delivered to some nations. Most of the re-design would relate to extensive electronic systems (not just put in different ones), EMP hardening and a new fuel boom and associated systems.
Starting in the early 2000’s, Boeing stopped development of improved 767’s, believing that the 787 would be available for delivery in 2008 or 2009. They focused their improvement efforts on newer versions of the 777, including the freighter. Now, according to Flight Global, Boeing is considering a new freighter version of the 767-400 for Federal Express.
Check this: http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2011/03/02/353857/boeing-and-fedex-eye-767-400er-freighter-launch.html