Airbus has completed assembly of the A330-200 earmarked to become the first development KC-30 for the US Air Force if Northrop Grumman wins the KC-X tanker competition, scheduled to be decided on 31 October.
The standard production aircraft, Airbus serial number 871, is in ground testing at Toulouse and will be ready to begin military modification in the USA in November, if the KC-30 is selected over Boeing’s KC-767.
Northrop says it decided to proceed with assembly of the aircraft, designated SDD-1, ahead of a downselect to underline the benefits of basing its tanker proposal on a commercial production line and supply chain.
Arguing that Boeing is proposing changes to the KC-767 that will make it different to the commercial 767, Northrop says its decision to base the KC-30 on a standard A330-200 provides a “low-risk, time-certain approach” to KC-X.
Aircraft SDD-1 is expected to fly in October and, if the KC-30 is selected for KC-X, will be flown to Northrop’s Melbourne, Florida facility in November for modification to a tanker.
Some or all of the four development aircraft will be completed in Melbourne before work transitions to Mobile, Alabama, where EADS North America will perform final assembly and Northrop will complete the modifications.