US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld has made two moves to reset a controversial lease-buy deal for 100 Boeing KC-767s. First, an analysis of aerial refuelling tanker replacement options will be made ready in November, eight months ahead of schedule. Second, a hold on Boeing's $23 billion deal will be extended until the study is ready.


At that point, three years after the leasing strategy was first proposed, the military will consider a wide range of options, including buying used 767s, re-engining the oldest Boeing KC-135Es, modifying retired McDonnell Douglas DC-10s or returning to the original lease terms. Rumsfeld's team will also consider the results of a new airlift mobility study under review by the Pentagon. "There could be some combination of capability that could be determined after the analysis of alternatives as well as the mobility study," says Rumsfeld aide Larry DiRita.


The delay also gives EADS more time to set up the KC-330 as an alternative. By November, it plans to have completed a prototype of its developmental boom system a year ahead of flight tests. Lack of an operational boom system was cited two years ago when the US Air Force ruled out the KC-330.


For Boeing, losing the deal could be a severe blow, including a termination charge of $310 million for costs up to 31 March, plus an extra charge to close the 767 production line, which could dry up without the tanker order.



Source: Flight International