KC-X Countdown: Surprise! Northrop/EADS win

Well, so much for conventional wisdom …

Here’s Boeing’s statement:

We were just informed that our KC-767 Advanced Tanker proposal was not selected in the KC-135 Replacement Program known as KC-X.

Obviously we are very disappointed with this outcome. We believe that we offered the Air Force the best value and lowest risk tanker for its mission. Our next step is to request and receive a debrief from the Air Force. Once we have reviewed the details behind the award, we will make a decision concerning our possible options, keeping in mind at all times the impact to the warfighter and our nation.

The Boeing Company would like to thank the many people who helped us in this campaign. We have received tremendous support from our suppliers, elected federal/state/local leaders, unions, community groups, and the 160,738 men and women who work for Boeing.


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19 Responses to KC-X Countdown: Surprise! Northrop/EADS win

  1. Royce 29 February, 2008 at 10:47 pm #

    Interesting decision. The politics behind it are probably complex. Until now, the Air Force has given little indication that operationally they preferred a larger aircraft over the KC-767. Is there a military aerospace project that can get approved in the U.S. without sending the work to the Southeast? Maybe Boeing should have offered to build the KC-767 in Alabama the moment EADS selected the site.

  2. Peter Fanelli 29 February, 2008 at 11:47 pm #

    Absolutely disgusted with our government.
    US Army helicopter replacements…foreign
    Presidential Helicopter replacement…foreign
    I could understand if we didn’t have an aviation industry of our own, but we do.
    How can we expect business to stop outsourcing jobs overseas when the government leads the way.
    How soon can we outsource the whitehouse?

    Fed Up!!!!

  3. Reed Coss 1 March, 2008 at 12:03 am #

    Unbelievable decision is more like it. The committee that approved this should all be, uh, relieved of their duties. What kind of backroom dealing led to the USAF awarding this financially gargantuan tanker deal to N.G., AKA EADS, AKA Airbus? So much for all this military talk about protecting the homeland from hostile forces. They can’t even protect the homeland from themselves. Scruples, people, where are your scruples?

  4. HerkEng 1 March, 2008 at 2:37 am #

    What a kick in the jimmy!

    I wonder if the outcome would have been different if Boeing had offered the 767-300 or -400. What about a KC-777? The decision boggles my mind to tell you the truth. How much of the KC-30 will actually be built in Alabama? How many US jobs will be lost because of this decision?

    I am one to believe that we should buy the best plane for our troops. I also believe that we do not need our tax-payer dollars to go to France to help subsidize their aircraft. I will be honest and say that I did not read the full requirements of the KC-X…if the KC-30 was the best aircraft for the job then so be it… never the less, it is a sad day for both Boeing and the history of the USAF tanker crews flying a Washington State built aircraft. What a sad day for AMC, but hell, this years Airlift/Tanker Association convention will be a blast! I can hear the jokes now.


  5. ELP 1 March, 2008 at 3:40 am #

    I’m kind of relieved. Just happy that something has been selected.

    Be interesting in a way. Remember many ages ago when a gaggle of F-16s were tanker dragged to Norway with a KC-10? Where the KC-10 took a sip or two from other tankers along the way.

    Where we see in briefs how may C-17 sorties it will take to do a F-35 JSF deployment. Yeah thats an actual metric they throw around on those slides… I think we need to start thinking: How many KC-45s will be involved to get a squadron of F-35s tanker dragged across the ocean.

    This brings up another point… Could the USAF F-35 be changed…set up fleetwide to be drogue refueled instead of boom? Would this be more practical for joint fighting? Also where refueling connect time on a USAF F-35 package could be kept down where you put 2 jets connected on the tanker (connect time productivity)

    I still think there will be a time when a refueling basket goes bad/with hose, wraps around the receptacle and FODs out the engine on the JSF and you can guess what would happen from there.

    I think there was also some GAO language or some such other study that worried about RAM/RAS being bruised on a drogue refuel F-35 because of a sloppy basket hook up banging into the airframe and therefore bringing up the risk of reducing the RCS and putting that airframe at risk later during ingress to the target.

    All fun stuff.

  6. Norman Lee 1 March, 2008 at 4:48 am #

    I was very dissapointed to hear USAF General Officers say how they like the AirBus Tanker. Once again, as in the F-22 debacle–the generals are complying with the wishes of their civilian leadership. The AF, up until today, have said in every private forum they wanted the KC-767 because it was a better value, american made and exceeded the mission requirements wich the AirBus airplane does not do unless one wickers the numbers. The saddest part of all this the US Air Force and the United States will be beholden to a foreign power and an arrogant one at that who has not been the strongest supporter of the United States our time of need. We hear about how the airplane will be built in the US by Americans and many of the suppliers are US based companies but that will not keep the French from leaving us high and dry if they don’t agree with us on a defense issue or they bend to the will of their middle eastern clients. Added to that they sell weapons to Iran and other countries that are not altogether friendly to the US–weapons that have been used against US troops. Considering the critical need for tankers the selection of an AirBus airplane is as close to being an anti-American decision as anything I have ever heard about. The real question I have is how did the politicos bring themselves to support a vital weapon system–a national resource–to be designed and manufactured by a foreign government? It must be money. Northrop/Grumman/EADS is not a Califonia based defense contracter–the real manufacturer is
    EADS from Toulouse and N/G is simply a front organization–a real sell out is taking place. It is the money and only the money!

  7. Dan 1 March, 2008 at 8:17 am #

    The best plane won. I think that reflects a change in USAF procurement — it’s becoming more about getting the best, rather than the most acceptable politically.

  8. HerkEng 1 March, 2008 at 2:23 pm #

    You can slap a Northrop Grumman sticker on it…but the KC-45A will always be an Airbus.

  9. Royce 1 March, 2008 at 4:22 pm #

    So we’re now license producing our light transports, presidential helicopters, tankers, military trainers, and army utility helicopters. The F-22 and C-17 go out of production, and the C-130J is going up against the newer A400M soon on the export market. It’s not even outside of contemplation that a recompeted CSAR-X could see the AW101 win.

    It’s been a long time in development, but it seems like the government isn’t worried about losing the ability to design military aircraft. Except for tilt-rotors, I guess.

  10. HerkEng 1 March, 2008 at 5:13 pm #

    When was the last time “Big Boy” Boeing won a defense contract?
    (CSAR-X does not count…because they might not in the end get it…and personally I thought Sikorsky had the best aircraft overall in that competition, but that is for another complaining session)

    McDonnell Douglas/Boeing major programs lost
    A-12 (MD/GD)- cancelled
    YF-23 (North/MD) – Lost (However, Boeing is part of the F-22 program)
    JSF (Uglier than sin)- Lost
    CSAR-X – Won, but mostly will lose on protest in my opinion
    N-UCAS – Lost
    KC-X Tanker – Lost

  11. Michael 1 March, 2008 at 7:43 pm #

    EADS is a part french, part german, part spainish company. And hey all 3 are in NATO and all 3 where and are always best friends with the USA. Hey without the french there would even been a USA if they didnt help in the American Revolution.
    And when has France sold weapons to Iran?
    As for most foreign things they are mostly built in the US.
    Boeing has parts of their planes bulit in japan to, so whats the deal.
    dont be whiner, causre thats the european way! ;-)

  12. Rik 2 March, 2008 at 6:03 pm #

    Greetings 2 yawl from Portugal.

    Been on the sidelines reading opinions pro/con this award.
    Personally I think this was a decision that will stuff up aircraft production in Europe in the medium/long run, with production moving 2 USA.
    2 those of u who think this decision was bad for the US, wait and see.. ;)
    If skilled BOEING workforce loses their jobs, it’s easeier for them to relocate within the USA ( go South ) than it is for a European worker to cross the Atlantic if he loses his job.

    In the long run, I foresee BOEINGs/AIRBUSs beeing produced in… India, China, or wherever the guy with the tool earns… the least !
    That already happens with much of the aircraft parts already…
    Blame it on Globalization, which was shoved down our throats, and stuffs up the worker, 2 fill the pockets of the managers. I see it happening all over the world. Not only in the aircraft industry…

  13. Walther 3 March, 2008 at 4:11 pm #

    Hey guys,

    you really don’t have to be an insider to see that -overall- a modern designed jet (330) will beat an excellent but much older design.
    I don’t have any doubts that they evaluated the offers to the smallest detail. Do realise that many european and other countries buy US planes and weapons (from Starfighter, C-130, Apache, Chinook, F-15, -16, -18, JSF, etc, etc) all the time, with their taxpayers money. And there’s opposition to…why buy American? Why? Because they’re better, it’s as simple as that. Air France flies 777′s (yes they do), not just Airbuses and most EADS stock is on the market. It will keep Boeing sharp and competitive, which is good when in 10-20 years they (and N-G/EADS) will have to take on some Chinese company. In the end it’s better for everyone. But, yes, it’s hard for the Seattle guys, but in the future the US will be (just) one of the major players (hopefully the best), but not the only one anymore, as in the 60′s-90′s. And now build and fly those tankers, we need them…!

  14. Dimitri 3 March, 2008 at 7:44 pm #

    As an American, I am happy with the decision. But to all the Europeans who are as happy, I ask that you consider the open and fair nature of the US. The US has over and over again allowed free markets to prevail, even if that means big losses for US industry. I do not believe European or other nations would act as fairly. In fact, it is unfathonable to imagine the French or Germans picking a US tanker over their own, just as they would not pick a US transport over their A400, nor US tanks over their own, etc. etc. Europe acts out of savvy self-interest to do whatever possible to promote its own industries, and has been very successful at that. Think of the US as a naive, but ultimately fair, nation.

  15. Stephem White 4 March, 2008 at 10:05 am #

    Surely Boeing with its 787 outsourcing has already set the example for the KC-45A decision. Namely build the parts overseas – except for high tech. bits such as engines – then assemble in the US. Surely if it is good enough for Boeing with the 787 what are Boeing supporters complaining about? KC-45A assembly and engines – and exotic military communications – are done in the US, just not in Washington or Kansas.

  16. Carl 4 March, 2008 at 1:29 pm #

    I have been reading the comments about the decision with slight amusement from over here in Blighty. All this American builds the best and Europe is your enemy rubbish! At the end of the day Boeing was very naive to think that a 767 offering would beat the A330-200! Three things immediately spring to mind about the A330, it is bigger, faster and flys further than the 767. Forget the fact its a European plane(with British wings might i add!), the better plane won and will be built in the US. Boeing should have offered the 777 instead, as that would have won in my opinion. Forget the fact it would have cost more(I really dont think cost was the issue as to why the 767 lost) the US has a bottomless pocket when it comes to defence, so i am sure it would have been selected.
    Count yourselves lucky your government is still willing to spend big money, us Brits will be lucky if we can defend ourselves with peashooters in the future!

  17. Jose 4 March, 2008 at 11:48 pm #

    To the commenter who wanted to blame McCain for getting the tanker lease cancelled – I worked for Boeing at the time, and many of us inside the company thought the tanker deal was dirty for a variety of reasons, the least of which was the disingenuous way the Air Force was playing in the press with the alleged decrepitude of the C-135 fleet as an excuse to get the tanker lease in place.

    The AF didn’t even have it as an acquisition priority – they went along with the politicians from Washington state who were looking at a downturn in commercial aircraft after 9/11.

    That deal was a crooked one from the start, and people ended up in jail for it. The sad thing is that if they had just run a fair competition at the time, Boeing would have walked away with it as the Airbus tanker was not much more than paper and power point back then.

    I do think this deal stinks, as I suspect (knowing the Air Force) that they didn’t take into account the infrastructure (hangers, ramps, etc) that will need to be built for this larger plane – my remembrance is that the KC-767 could reuse most of that stuff. But it wouldn’t be the first time the Air Force has pulled this kind of s**t and been allowed to get away with it.

  18. Capricorn 5 March, 2008 at 2:52 pm #

    A bit narrow minded most of you?
    Forgotten that, since WWII, European countries (amongst many worldwide) have practically always bought US made planes, civil as well as military (e.g. if ‘approved’ by de Gvmt) with partly MY TAX MONEY?!
    Isn’t it about time that you get off your high horses and realize that the world outside USA isn’t just the playground for US companies…
    It was brave and visionary from the decision makers.
    Best regards from Europe!

  19. Max DeBruyn 16 March, 2008 at 12:35 am #

    As a Canadian, I am able to speak with pride about the size and strength of our Aerospace industry. Bombardier is a big player that produces quality Aircraft around the world. The Canadair Cl-415 is recognised around the Globe for the excellence of product in a forest fire fighting vehicle. The Russians produce a bigger machine for this purpose with the Beriev 2000 yet the Canadair remains the product of choice.
    If Canada needs new Forest fire fighting aircraft, we will most certainly go to tender but a winner with any other name but Canadair would not be well received.
    Similarly if the French President or German Chancellor were to fly to a meeting in a helicopter not made in their respective Countries, there would be riots in the streets. When the A-400 was no more than a name on a piece of paper, the French Military put in an order.They did not tender,they just ordered the A-400 because it was French. When the French airforce orders new aircraft, they will be made by Dassault or possibly another name but surely one that is French. There are no helicopters in the French government catalogue but that they are French.
    Business is business and politics smells to high heaven regardless of the country it eminates from but the tanker decision just made is beyond belief.
    The desk jockeys of the USAF have decided to crawl into bed with a French Company, but do they know how reliable that partner might be?
    As a Canadian I only know that we belong to Nato as equal members along with other major European players. NATO is attempting to maintain a holding action in Afghanistan, the success of which I have my doubts. However, as an equal partner in NATO we wonder how come our military personnel eat dirt in the desert and some come home in body bags while another equal partner like France sits it’s contingent on guard duty in Kabul. They refuse to respond with their helicopters to areas of need because it may involve gunfire. Some partner.
    Bottom line is this. The Queen of England has a Rolls Royce limousine and drives about in her personal Land Rover. God Bless Her!
    The French President rides in a Citroen or flies in a Dassault or an EADS something.
    The German Chancellor rides in a Mercedes.The Swedish head of State will always drive a Volvo and fly in a SAAB.
    The American President still has a Cadillac Limousine but his helicopter is now French and will the next Air Force One be an A-380?

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