What’s the next move for Northrop Grumman/EADS North America?

All eyes seem focused on Boeing’s next move. Do they want todelay the tanker RFP to switch to the KC-767-400ER? Or perhaps even theKC-777F?

Another interesting question is what will the NorthropGrumman/EADS North America team do to respond?

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The KC-30B is based on the A330-200 passengerairliner, which, thanks to the tanker proposal process, has now been modifiedto serve as a freighter.

But Airbus launched the pure freighter version of theA330-200 almost two years after the Northrop/EADS team formed. Designed to be asuperior freighter than a modified passenger aircraft, the first A330-200F isscheduled for delivery in late 2009.

Will the team sweeten their offer in the second round ofbidding by switching to the A330-200F?

There’s yet another possibility, and one that has hugeramifications for the commercial cargo market.

Airbus has been mulling the launch of an A330-300F freighterfor a few years, but hasn’t yet made a decision. It would compare well againstthe Boeing 777F on the cargo market.

If Boeing succeeds in winning a delay in order to offer aKC-777F, will that prompt Airbus to respond by using the KC-X tankercompetition to officially launch the A330-300F?

These changes also have potentially major consequences forthe industry teams supporting each bid, and, thus, potentially on the politicallandscape as well.

For example, General Electric is currently aligned with theNorthrop bid and Pratt & Whitney is on the Boeing team.

But GE is the sole-source supplier for the 777 with thefamous GE90. Will the Ohiodelegation suddenly shift to Boeing’s side?

P&W, meanwhile, is the sole US-based engine supplier forthe A330-200F and would be likely to compete with Rolls-Royce for a similarrole on the A330-300F. So does Connecticutsuddenly switch its vote to the KC-30?

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7 Responses to What’s the next move for Northrop Grumman/EADS North America?

  1. EG 25 August, 2008 at 9:44 pm #

    Here we go again…
    Let’s deviate from the spec and offer more. (Let me preface the following; I hope I’m wrong.)
    The original project goal slowly spirals out sight and the costs rapidly escalate out of sight. 15 years later we will still have the KC-135 because the project will have been cancelled due to cost over runs.

    Although until now, I have never been able to watch the politics at play.

    (Not even 50 and I have become a defense curmudgeon!)

  2. Stephen Trimble 25 August, 2008 at 9:49 pm #

    You think that’s curmudgeonly? I think that’s almost a best case!

  3. keesje 26 August, 2008 at 2:10 am #

    Two years ago GE was proposing the GENX for future A330 freighter and tanker applications, as reported by flightglobal.

    The A330F has more engine ground clearance then the A330.

    Long term this would probably be the best solution instead of the moderately outdated CF6 and PW4000 offerings.

    The 15%-20% better fuel efficiency of the GEnx-2B against the CF6-80E1 makes adiiference hard to ignore..

  4. GasPasser 26 August, 2008 at 4:28 am #

    That’s the problem when you allow extra credit for exceeding requirements. We now have an arms race that if unchecked we will end up with a KC-747F vs a KC-380F contest to replace a 60 YO KC-135 fleet.

  5. Blue Falcon 27 August, 2008 at 2:55 am #

    This is so typical of the Air Farce. Always going for bigger until as previous commentaors have noted things go wildly out control both in size and cost. They never learn and should have been turfed out after this last smelly French tanker deal.

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