KC-X: The Podcast


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3 Responses to KC-X: The Podcast

  1. Christopher Dye 26 February, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    Steve – I’m surpirsed that you and your podcst collegues did not mention the DoD’s Aircraft Inventory Report (AIR) for FY 2001-2040 which Scott Hamilton provided on 2/23 at http://www.Leeham.net. That Report says that the AF is to take only 109 new tankers by 2020, when it will have 60 KC-10s and 365 KC-135s (then about 60 years old), all totalling 534. Scott says that the AF will take the full 179 tanker order, but the Report does not say how or when after 2020, or whether the AF will keep the -135s soldiering on after 2020 or retire them. I understand that the new RFP calls for first KCX delivery in 2018.

    Thoughts and conclusions:

    The politicisation of the issue has made any buy except a split highly unlikely. The AF does not have the money to buy large numbers of new tankers, and the ones they want they won’t get without a split buy.The AF’s answer appears to be to defer the delivery of the new tankers to 2018, which means maybe never because a lot can change between now and then. They can do this because they can keep the -135s flying forever with proper maintenance and efficiency improvements.

    By 2020, tanker needs, new air frame designs (BWB), new, more efficient engines, and other improvements will have made the 767/330 tankers obsolete, at least in terms of overall costs, so the last 79 are not likely to be the current contestants.

    Possible Compromise. It is in our nation’s interest that than an EADS large plane line be set up here, and that this dispute become a win/win for both regions and country. Otherwise we risk long term defenseacquisition paralysis.

    Gen Licht said the KC-30 was best because it could carry more freight/pass as well as fuel than the KC767. I can understand the AF may want freight/pass capability that costs less than the C-17 for use between prepared fields. Why not take 109 KCXs from Boeing and 70 A332Fs from NB/EADS, so long as they build all A332Fs here, or some variation of that. This way, the AF gets an adequate tanker, and a transport which is operational as a transport 100% of the time instead of part time like the KC-30 without paying the extaprice for the tanker.

  2. Stephen Trimble 26 February, 2010 at 3:50 pm #

    Hi Christopher,

    Very interesting points. I think you may be onto something with your analysis. My point about the split buy is not that it can’t or won’t happen, but that it will surely not cure the program’s political problems. In fact, it will perpetuate the political drama on a recurring annual basis. That’s actually good for people in my line of work, but I can understand why there are those who would prefer to avoid it even if it’s really the only way out.

  3. Christopher Dye 26 February, 2010 at 10:44 pm #

    Steve – I heard you make this point on the podcast, and it is very well taken. It is this risk of never-ending disputes as the tankers are re-ordered that requires us to move as quickly as possible to a win/win approach. It will mean Boeing and its workers and union will have to give up something, as will Ala and NG/EADS. Its a little like community organizing – getting all stakeholders together to work out something for everyone. As I have said often elsewhere, the recent Pentagon model for this may be how the Navy kept Va class subs in production by getting all stakeholders together to reduce costs.

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