All eyes seem focused on Boeing's next move. Do they want to delay the tanker RFP to switch to the KC-767-400ER? Or perhaps even the KC-777F?
Another interesting question is what will the Northrop Grumman/EADS North America team do to respond?The KC-30B is based on the A330-200 passenger airliner, which, thanks to the tanker proposal process, has now been modified to serve as a freighter.
But Airbus launched the pure freighter version of the A330-200 almost two years after the Northrop/EADS team formed. Designed to be a superior freighter than a modified passenger aircraft, the first A330-200F is scheduled for delivery in late 2009.
Will the team sweeten their offer in the second round of bidding by switching to the A330-200F?
There's yet another possibility, and one that has huge ramifications for the commercial cargo market.
Airbus has been mulling the launch of an A330-300F freighter for a few years, but hasn't yet made a decision. It would compare well against the Boeing 777F on the cargo market.
If Boeing succeeds in winning a delay in order to offer a KC-777F, will that prompt Airbus to respond by using the KC-X tanker competition to officially launch the A330-300F?
These changes also have potentially major consequences for the industry teams supporting each bid, and, thus, potentially on the political landscape as well.
For example, General Electric is currently aligned with the Northrop bid and Pratt & Whitney is on the Boeing team.
But GE is the sole-source supplier for the 777 with the
famous GE90. Will the
P&W, meanwhile, is the sole US-based engine supplier for
the A330-200F and would be likely to compete with Rolls-Royce for a similar
role on the A330-300F. So does