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?
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
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